The voices we heard at the beginning of the twentieth century, such as those of Haldane and Webb, considered existing university provision and called for more. By the time of Flexner's intervention in 1930 it was already important to explore and evaluate the different types of university, and the trends. In their separate ways, during and after the Second World War, Truscot and Moberly examined what was wrong in the operation of the university and its failure to position itself amid cyclonic social and international changes. Ashby took Moberly's understanding of the problem further, located the failure in the history of science and technology and confronted the relationship between tradition and adaptation. Robbins and Crosland widened further the understanding of 'higher education' and moved the state into a stronger position to influence and to co-ordinate. Governments increasingly determined directions, planned targets, related higher education to social and economic imperatives. The voices of higher education became concerned largely with response and the short-term. Change in the late-century included the national and institutional machineries for control of and quality in the system, and Dearing raised higher the already growing profile of student learning and the improvement of teaching. The story of twentieth-century higher education therefore includes policies and buildings, students and funds, the organization of the national system and of the curriculum, new institutions and the development of old ones, the community and the Internet, the book and the journal, the conference and the professional network, the parliamentary and the private debate, perplexity and protest, values and purpose, advocates and opinion.
The main focus has been the process of making and transforming a system of higher education, together with attempts to interpret it in massive contextual changes. Moberly most determinedly cleared a way into the territory and Ashby most directly penetrated it. The book that most clearly portrayed its contours in the late century was Ashby's 1974 Adapting Universities to a Technological Society, some of the argument having been