In 1992 the UK Government passed legislation which devolved the funding and management of higher education to Funding Councils in Wales and Scotland, leaving a new Higher Education Funding Council for England responsible for England (Northern Ireland had always been administered separately). In 1998 further legislation devolved large areas of government from Whitehall to Wales and Scotland and created new devolved governments, including one in Northern Ireland, all of which had powers of governance and funding over the institutions of higher education under their control. In a little over 25 years four separate national higher education systems have emerged with considerable divergencies from what once might have been seen as an English model. Indeed England can now look like the outlier when compared to the other three systems. The paper will describe and explore the changes that have taken place and assess the impact they have had on what had previously been a unified UK higher education system.
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