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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A New Cycle of UK Higher Education Reforms: New Labour and New Fees May Foster Mission Differentiation

  • Author(s): Douglass, John Aubrey
  • et al.

A White Paper issued by the Labour government--under Prime Minister Tony Blair--in January 2003 outlines potentially sweeping changes in how British universities might be funded and regulated. These changes would build on three major paradigm shifts and experiments in system building in higher education in the United Kingdom since World War II: the creation and subsequent collapse of a binary system of higher education that included both universities and polytechnics; a decrease in governmental funding and an increase in regulations; and the introduction of student fees into the previously exclusively government-funded higher education sector. The Labour government's new White Paper proposes both to increase funding and to diversify the sources, and more controversially, to allow universities to set their own fees. At the same time, it continues to rely on an accountability and regulatory bureaucracy, and incentive funding, to encourage enrollment growth and to expand access to underserved populations.

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