Universities in the UK have traditionally operated under a common system which institutionalises important restrictive practices. They have operated in a cartel whose output has been regulated by government. The individual firms (i.e. universities) are allocated quotas of students by government, and fees and salaries are set in ways that are typical of a classic cartel. The university cartel is underpinned by a further monopoly, granted as of right to each university. In the UK nobody can award degrees unless empowered to do so by royal charter or by the Secretary of State for
Education and Science.
Professor Sir Douglas Hague takes this argument a stage further by stating that the current stage of economic development is strongly based on the acquisition, analysis and transmission of information and on its application. Universities will therefore be forced to share, or even give up, part of their role as repositories of information and as power bases for ideas transmitted through teaching and writing.
In this richly original Hobart Paper, Professor Sir Douglas Hague identifies the challenges which universities will have to meet and argues that, if these can be overcome, universities should be able to survive both as competitors and complements of the knowledge industries over the coming decades.
From the original 1991 edition