The British response of higher education to changing educational perspectives Academic Article uri icon


  • The primary purpose of this paper is to examine the objectives of higher education provision in Britain. The perspective of 'educationists' are compared with those of 'economists'. In particular, the paper argues that the Department of Education and Science (DES) has moved substantially in the direction of the economists' approach to educational resource allocation. The paper also argues that the partticular characteristics of higher education (HE), where it is state-provided and free at the point of consumption, imbue it with the properties of a Niskanen-type bureau. This paper suggests that the current DES policy with its considerable implications for HE resource allocation can be rationalised in terms of the human capital approach and the problems of managing a bureau. "A professor was supposed to be a venerable kind of person, with snow-white whiskers reaching to his stomach. He was expected to moon around the campus oblivious of the world around him. If you nodded to him he failed to see you. Of money he knew nothing; of business far less. He was, as his trustees were proud to say of him, 'a child'. On the other hand, he contained within him a reservoir of learning of such depth as to be practically bottomless. None of this learning was supposed to be of any material or commercial benefit to anybody. Its use was in saving the soul and enlarging the mind" (Leacock, 1922). 1984.

published proceedings

  • Economics of Education Review

author list (cited authors)

  • Craven, B. M., Dick, B., & Wood, B.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Craven, BM||Dick, B||Wood, B

publication date

  • January 1984