1 June 2021
by Simon Marginson

University Challenged – Where Is the UK Headed?

The French higher education and research (HER) system has been facing many challenges for several years: demographic influx, lack of autonomy of institutions, underfunding… The Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated these structural difficulties. But is the French case unique? To answer the question, Institut Montaigne has launched a blogpost series that sheds light on the challenges and opportunities faced by other HER systems worldwide. In this article, Simon Marginson dives into the strengths and weaknesses of UK universities and what we could expect from the future of British higher education.

The essential issues facing higher education in the United Kingdom (UK) are very similar to those summarized succinctly in Institut Montaigne’s report: resources, maximizing inward talent flows and minimizing brain drain, relations with students, their living costs, the institutional structures of the higher education system, governance and autonomy, research resources and performance, and the implications of the pandemic and post-pandemic.

The history of government and higher education in these two neighbouring countries, so like and yet unlike, has been different, especially in relation to the positioning of the universities. In France, universities are public. In the UK, they sit somewhere between an intrusive state, an open civil society and market capitalism. So the starting points in the two countries are different. Sometimes, the UK and France point the same way, sometimes they are moving in opposite directions.

You can read the full blog post on the Institut Montaigne website here.