This year has been a significant one for UK higher education, with the government rapidly moving the system away from a state-controlled sector towards a more marketised structure – to the applause of some and the growing malaise of others.
It culminated in the surprise removal of the long-standing student number controls, freeing up universities to recruit as many students as they wish. This comes 50 years after the anniversary of Lord Robbins’ seminal report on the expansion of higher education, with its vision that “courses of higher education should be available for all those who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so.”
If 2013 has been the year of marketisation, how far towards a fully marketised system has UK higher education actually come? Let’s consider the statistics: