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Higher Education in Scotland and the UKDiverging or Converging Systems?$
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Sheila Riddell, Elisabet Weedon, and Sarah Minty

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781474404587

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474404587.001.0001

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Higher Education Governance and Institutional Autonomy in the Post-Devolution UK

Higher Education Governance and Institutional Autonomy in the Post-Devolution UK

(p.19) 2 Higher Education Governance and Institutional Autonomy in the Post-Devolution UK
Higher Education in Scotland and the UK

David Raffe

Edinburgh University Press

Devolution was expected to redistribute power within each ‘home country’ of the UK as well as between each country and the UK centre. It would bring government closer to public institutions such as universities, and help these institutions to contribute to the economic, social and cultural development of their host societies. Devolution thus presented both opportunities and threats for universities. In this chapter I review tensions as they have played out in the years since devolution, with a primary focus on Scotland. The chapter starts with a narrative of the governance of Scottish higher education following administrative devolution in 1992 and especially parliamentary devolution in 1999. The chapter then adopts a more analytical perspective, and asks to what extent the trends described earlier can be attributed to devolution. It suggests three ways in which devolution has created additional threats to the institutional autonomy of universities, and three factors that have helped to minimise such threats. The analysis focuses on Scotland but the analytical framework can be applied to the devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland and it explains some of the differences across the home nations.

Keywords:   Higher education, governance, institutional autonomy, Scotland

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