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UK universities are in a state of uncertainty. The causes are multiple: the first, and the most immediate, is the effect of the coronavirus on the financial health of the whole sector. But there are other pressing problems, notably that of pensions in those universities established before 1992. Brexit, and the political uncertainties associated with it, continues to cause anxiety, particularly while a ‘no deal’ remains a possibility. The possible loss of international students might also prove disastrous for some institutions. And the management of student access to the 20/21 entry is giving rise to considerable worry. If an institution does not meet its entry target, it loses money.
The research study has been ongoing since the referendum of 2016. The first round of interviews is reported on in the chapter in the book on ‘Universities as Political Institutions’ (2020), Brill. This seminar looks at the findings of the second iteration 2018-19, with a passing reference to the effects of coronavirus, where interviews have only just begun.
During the seminar the presenter will be examining the range of uncertainties from the point of view of Members of Governing Bodies and Vice-Chancellors who are tasked with maintaining and assuring the financial stability of their institutions in order to enable them ‘to teach, research and innovate’. Based on detailed interviews with university leaders, it examines how the universities are approaching the task, what decisions are being taken, and what modifications are being made to their strategic plans.