There are different political environments and systems operating within the different countries within the United Kingdom. Many of the issues outlined in the present profile relate to developments in England and not across the whole of the United Kingdom.
- Lifting of student number controls for universities in England, partially from 2012/13 and fully from 2015/16
- Major decrease of almost 70% in public grant funding for teaching in England (between 2011 and 2017), as tuition fee ceilings increased for Bachelor/undergraduate students
- Forthcoming changes to Scottish university governance with the Higher Education Governance Act 2016
- New quality assurance approach from 2016/17 including a new focus on teaching excellence with the Teaching Excellence Framework
- Forthcoming changes for universities in England outlined in the Higher Education and Research Bill
Organisational autonomy: high
English universities can decide, without the interference of the State, on all aspects of organisational autonomy, including selection, term of office and dismissal of the executive head, governance structures and inclusion of external members, as well as internal academic structures. Universities may create legal entities freely.
Financial autonomy: high
Universities do require the approval of an external authority for borrowing above a certain level. At Bachelor level tuition fees to national and EU students must be set below a ceiling set by an external authority. Universities may set the level of fees charged at other levels and to international students.
Academic autonomy: high
Universities decide on the overall number of students since student number controls were lifted. They set admission criteria at Bachelor and Master levels. New programmes may be introduced without prior accreditation. Universities undergo institutional accreditation by the national agency. Universities can decide on the language of instruction for all programmes and can design the content of academic programmes freely.
Staffing autonomy: high
Universities recruit their senior academic and administrative staff freely. Salary bands for senior academic staff are negotiated with other parties through national bargaining arrangements, while universities decide on senior administrative staff salaries. There are no specific regulations regarding either dismissals or promotions.
Organisational weighted 100% unweighted 100%
100% Selection procedure for the executive head
The selection of the executive head is not validated by an external authority
100% Selection criteria for the executive head
The selection criteria for the executive head are not stated in the law
100% Dismissal of the executive head
The procedure for the dismissal of the executive head is not stated in the law
100% Term of office of the executive head
The length of the term of office is not stated in the law
100% External members in university governing bodies
Universities can decide to include external members
This applies to one other country: Estonia