There are many landmarks in the history of British higher education, including the Robbins Report, the Jarratt Report and the Dearing Report. Much less known is the Universities' Deputation of 23 November 1918. The First World War brought about massive changes for universities, including new methods for funding, new approaches to research, new areas of teaching and new ideas about staffing. At the heart of these changes was a fundamental shift in the relationship between universities and government, and in the role of universities within society, both of which were clearly expressed by the Deputation in November 1918. This paper considers the pressures on universities during the War and their reaction, and examines the changing attitudes behind these shifts. Many of the issues raised in 1918 effectively set the tone for the rest of the twentieth century and remain relevant today.
John Taylor has worked for nearly forty years in universities, as both a university manager and as an academic. His research spans strategy, organisation, management and internationalisation in higher education, and now is increasingly centred upon the history of higher education.
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