Higher Education: A New Framework (1991)
This was the second of two education White Papers published by John Major's government in May 1991.
The first, Education and Training for the 21st century (CM 1536), dealt with further education.
This one (CM 1541) dealt with higher education.
Higher Education: A New Framework was prepared for the web by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 5 June 2019.
White Paper: Higher Education: A New Framework (1991)
London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1991
In his Foreword to the White Paper, Prime Minister John Major wrote:
In higher education, our key reform will be to end the increasingly artificial distinction between universities on the one hand and polytechnics and colleges on the other. This will build on our plans to transform education and training for 16-19 year olds by removing the barriers between the academic and vocational streams (page 4).The White Paper announced 'changes in the five main areas which currently seal the binary line in place', namely:
it is in the interests of universities, polytechnics and colleges to continue to look for increased levels of funding from private sources in particular from industry and commerce, from benefactors and alumni, and from present sources of fee income. Such private income can enhance considerably the independence of individual institutions. The Government accepts that public funds will remain the main source of income for funding the projected expansion of student numbers (page 10).The existing 'separate channels' for the funding of teaching in universities on the one hand and polytechnics and colleges on the other would hinder efficient further expansion of higher education provision. The government therefore proposed to introduce 'a single funding structure for teaching in universities, polytechnics and colleges' (page 14).
With regard to the funding of research, the White Paper set out the following principles:
Arguments for 'complete coherence' pointed in favour of 'one single Funding Council operating across Great Britain or the United Kingdom as a whole' (page21). However, the government intended to introduce separate Funding Councils for higher education in England, Scotland and Wales.
To ensure fair competition across territorial boundaries, the funding allocations by each territorial Secretary of State to the relevant body will be informed by the Government's general policy on higher education. Subject to that, funding will take account of each particular set of territorial circumstances, such as the different structure and duration of degree courses in Scotland (page 22)The Open University would, for funding purposes, be 'brought within the ambit of the new Funding Council for England' but would 'retain its general UK mission' (page 23).
With regard to the quality of teaching and learning, there was a need for 'proper accountability for the substantial public funds invested in higher education'. Students and employers needed 'improved information about quality' if the full benefit of 'increased competition' was to be obtained (page 24). The White Paper listed the following There are various 'aspects of quality assurance in higher education':
Finally, with regard to pay and conditions of service, employers in higher education would be expected 'to settle their own negotiating arrangements' in the light of the proposals in the White Paper. The government would 'continue to influence pay and conditions of service through the level of funding provided for the new Higher Education Funding Councils' (page 35).