Managing Successful Universities

By Michael Shattock | Go to book overview

1
What are the characteristics of a
successful university?

This chapter explores the factors that define institutional success. It considers how the climate in which success can be identified has changed, how we can rank success whether through research performance or through student related measures and what conclusions can be drawn from the published league tables. It looks at contextual factors that need to be taken into account including factors which can disadvantage institutions, and whether alternative criteria can be found to measure institutional performance; along with this it reviews the special position of the post-1992 universities. Issues about the sustainability of performance are explored and the evidence in regard to company success are compared with the position of universities; it argues that performance over time can be self reinforcing in the latter except perhaps in periods of very sharp change where universities may lack adaptability to new pressures. Finally, it sums up the evidence and draws conclusions about the characteristics of institutional success and the factors that generate it.


The historical position

One of the most significant changes in the way we think about universities, from the philosophy that dominated the period from 1945 to 1980 in the UK, is how we identify success. In these years the University Grants Committee (UGC) worked on the principle that universities were equal or, if not actually equal, should for the most part be treated as such. Common salary scales were introduced in the 1950s to ensure that richer universities should not poach staff from poorer institutions. In the 1960s the Robbins Committee sought to diminish the quality gap between Oxbridge and the rest and in the 1970s research student numbers were allocated by the UGC on the basis of equality between less and more research active universities. Also in the 1970s the Universities Central Council for Admissions (UCCA) opposed suggestions that it should publish A level entry scores on a university by

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