Times Higher EducationBy . Margaret Thatcher’s “revolutionary” reforms helped to transform an ailing university system into a world-leading higher education system, a vice-chancellor has said. Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, which was awarded its Royal charter in 1983 with the then-prime minister’s support, praised Baroness Thatcher’s policies in the 1980s for transforming UK higher education. Meanwhile, the universities and science minister David Willetts also paid tribute to her “extraordinary achievements” in setting the scene “for the world-class higher education sector we have today”.
Professor Kealey, a former adviser to Baroness Thatcher, who has died at the age of 87 following a stroke, said her reforms led to more transparency and accountability within the sector, while her push to liberalise rules on fees also had an immense impact.
“Before Mrs Thatcher, universities were very similar to public utilities – run for the benefit of staff with government money. Now they are stellar,” said Professor Kealey.
“She was determined to introduce a much higher level of accountability for public funding and greater accountability for students as customers,” he said.
The introduction of full tuition fees for international students in 1981 was a good example of Baroness Thatcher’s benign legacy to higher education, he said. Read more...