University of Buckingham: Wikis


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University of Buckingham
Motto Flying on our own Wings
Established 1983 - gained University Status by Royal Charter
1976 - University College[1]
Type Private
Chancellor Sir Martin Jacomb
Vice-Chancellor Dr Terence Kealey
Staff 89[1]
Students 840[1]
Undergraduates 610[1]
Postgraduates 230[1]
Location Buckingham, England
51°59′45″N 0°59′31″W / 51.99583°N 0.99194°W / 51.99583; -0.99194Coordinates: 51°59′45″N 0°59′31″W / 51.99583°N 0.99194°W / 51.99583; -0.99194

The University of Buckingham (UB) is an independent, nonsectarian, research and teaching university located in Buckingham, England, on the banks of the River Great Ouse. Although there are many private universities in other countries, including most of America's best-known institutions, Buckingham is the only one in the United Kingdom. The university offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees through five schools of study.

Law and Science are situated in the upper campus; the river-side campus covers Humanities, Business, Social Sciences, Biomedical science, and Education. As the University is expanding, it has acquired a new site on the west side of the river, hence increasing the capacity of the river-side campus as a whole. Teaching on some master's degrees takes place in London, in Grosvenor Place, at the home of one its partner institutions: the European School of Economics. Prominent academics include: philosopher Roger Scruton, philosopher and educationalist Anthony O'Hear, educationalist Alan Smithers, the former Chief Inspector of Schools Chris Woodhead, the cancer specialist Karol Sikora, the historian and political scientist Geoffrey Alderman, and the expert in UK Intelligence Anthony Glees.



Some of the founding academics migrated from the University of Oxford,[2] disillusioned or wary of aspects of the late 1960s' ethos. On 27 May 1967, The Times published a letter from Dr J. W. Paulley, which said: "Is it now time to examine the possibility of creating at least one university in this country on the pattern of [the] great private foundations in the USA".[3] Three London conferences followed which explored this idea[4].

Subsequently the university was incorporated as the University College of Buckingham in 1973, and received its Royal Charter from the Queen in 1983.

Its development was influenced by the libertarian Institute of Economic Affairs, in particular, Harry Ferns and Ralph Harris, heads of the Institute. In keeping with its adherence to a libertarian philosophy, the university's foundation-stone was laid by Margaret Thatcher, who was also to be the university's Chancellor (nominal and ceremonial head) between 1993 and 1998. The University's first three Vice-Chancellors were Lord Beloff (1913-1999), former Gladstone Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford; Sir Alan Peacock, the economist, founder of the Economics department at York University, and Fellow of the British Academy; and Sir Richard Luce, now Lord Luce, the former Minister for the Arts.


The university's four Schools are Law, Humanities, Business, and Science and Medicine. Each of these is presided over by a Dean.

The university continues the tradition of "tutorial" (i.e. small group) teaching[5] which its founders brought over from the University of Oxford. While there are seminars and lectures, much teaching is done in small groups of 4 to 8 students, with one member of staff. The staff-student ratio is 1:7.8, which is high among UK universities.[6] The Times Good University Guide (2009) notes that "one-to-one tutorials, which have almost died out elsewhere, with the exception of Oxbridge...are quite common at Buckingham".[4]

The quality of the university's provision is maintained, as at other UK universities, by an external examiner system (i.e., professors from other universities oversee and report on exams and marking), by an academic advisory council (comprising a range of subject-specialist academics from other universities), and by membership of the QAA, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

The Department of Education is home to some of the most prominent educationalists in Britain, including Professor Chris Woodhead (former head of Ofsted), Professor Anthony O'Hear (director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy), and Professor Alan Smithers. Its postgraduate certificate in education – which specialises in the independent sector – is accredited with Qualified Teacher Status which means that it also qualifies graduates to teach in the state sector.

The cancer specialist Karol Sikora is Dean of the School of Medicine. The School of Medicine offers postgraduate MD programmes for qualified doctors in a range of specialisations.

The university was created as a liberal arts college, and the major humanities subjects such as history and politics are offered with economics as a degree in international studies. Economics, however, is available as a stand-alone degree, as is English literature and combined degrees relating to journalism. The Professor of Economics, and Dean of Humanities, Professor Martin Ricketts, is the chair of the Institute of Economic Affairs Academic Advisory Council.

Courses at Buckingham place far greater emphasis on exams as an assessment method rather than coursework.[7]

Degrees: timescale and cost

The university offers traditional degrees over a shorter time-frame. Students at Buckingham study for eight terms over two years, rather than nine terms over three, which (with extra teaching) fits a three-year degree into two years. From September 2009, tuition fees for full-time UK and EU undergraduate students will be £8,040 per year for these two-year Bachelor's degree programmes. For non-EU students, fees will be equivalent to £13,500 p.a. Because Buckingham's degrees take only two years to complete, the university views its courses as cost-effective compared to ordinary UK university courses, once living expenses and the income from an extra year's employment are taken into account.

Dr Terence Kealey, published an article on 4 June in the Daily Telegraph newspaper[8] arguing that getting better-funded and more effective universities means charging higher fees.


The University carries out research in a number of disparate areas: in Law, family law and law relating to gender; in the Humanities, Dickens, with the Dickens Journals Online project, and also Biography and Life-writing; in Business, particularly entrepreneurship; in Science, particularly diabetes, obesity, and metabolic research, at the Clore Laboratory; face recognition systems, within Applied Computing; and Intelligence issues, within the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies. The centre moved from Brunel University to Buckingham in 2007.

Education research takes place at the Centre for Education and Employment Research within the Department of Education. This is under the directorship of Alan Smithers and Dr Pamela Robinson, and investigates "the current state of education for policymakers, practitioners and others who make education happen".

Dickens Journals Online, which is run from within the Department of English, aims to make available free, for schools, universities, and others, a complete online edition of Charles Dickens's weekly magazines, Household Words and All the Year Round. When completed, it will make available, to a wide audience, a rich slice of nineteenth-century literature, opinion, information, and history. Dr John Drew, of the department of English, has been awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship (2009-11) to further the project.

The School of Business is an Accredited Study Centre for Chartered Institute of Marketing.

The Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, which runs an MA in this field, is prominent in recent debates concerning Muslim radicalisation in the UK and the role of the intelligence forces in this area.

Reputation and ranking

The Sunday Times University guide for 2010, published on 13 September 2009, has included Buckingham in its league tables in 48th position out of 122 UK higher education institutes[9]. The Sunday Times said "We rank the private University of Buckingham for the first time in our main league table this year. Top for student satisfaction, with the lowest level of graduate unemployment, the best student/staff ratio and the lowest drop-out rate compared to benchmark. Buckingham makes quite an entrance ..."[10]. It gives the university's main weakness as research.

Times Higher Education reported that the University's 2008 graduates had the highest employment rate after six months.[11]

In recent years the University has consistently ranked highly in student satisfaction surveys. For example, Times Higher Education reported that Buckingham was ranked first in 2006[12], 2007[13] and 2008[14] in the NSS or National Student Survey of student satisfaction. This is a census, albeit controversial, of final-year undergraduates conducted by IposMori, the polling organisation, to determine satisfaction levels at UK universities.[15] The survey relates to the whole student experience, from the experience of classes, and lecturer feedback, to the quality of pastoral care. In 2009, the University of Buckingham dropped to second place.[16]

The league tables of individual university departments produced by The Guardian newspaper, rank English at Buckingham as 15th out of 97 UK departments,[17] Business as 20th out of 113 departments,[18] and Law as 23rd out of 89 departments.[19]

As of 2009, the university does not rank in the top 600 universities globally as rated by Quacquarelli Symonds and Times Higher Education.[20]


The University's Royal Charter, unlike those of other universities, provides for three sovereign bodies, the third one (in addition to the usual Council and Senate) being the Academic Advisory Council, which is a group of external academics that audits the academic staff.

When the national Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) was created, the University felt it should join, even though - as Britain’s only independent University – it is markedly different from the state-funded universities that the QAA otherwise audits.

The University has emerged as a critic of the QAA. Professor Geoffrey Alderman, in his inaugural lecture at the University of Buckingham Teaching Quality Assessment, League Tables and the Decline of Academic Standards in British Higher Education[21] demonstrated that degree inflation had taken off in the 10 years of the QAA’s existence. This lecture provoked a wide national debate [22] which encouraged the House of Commons Select Committee to review quality and related issues.[23]

The University got "broad confidence" (the highest band) in its first QAA audit in 2003.[24] In 2008 the QAA said that:

"limited confidence can reasonably be placed in the soundness of the University's current and likely future management of the academic standards of its awards" and also that "confidence can reasonably be placed in the soundness of the University's current and likely future management of the quality of the learning opportunities available to students." [25]

The University's Vice-Chancellor, Dr Terence Kealey, commented on the QAA report in the Times Higher Education magazine on 16 September 2008,[26] followed a week later by a lead letter from the Chief Executive of the QAA[27] and an article by Melanie Newman in the same issue.[28]

A few weeks later, Dr Kealey discussed the QAA in a feature article in the Guardian newspaper.[29] A week later the Chief Executive of QAA and Professor Gill Evans responded in the same paper.[30] The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Terence Kealey, then wrote a further article for the Guardian newspaper linking the QAA inspection regime with degree inflation which has so undermined UK Higher Education that the Burgess Report recommends abandoning classed degrees altogether [31].

In June 2009 Dr Kealey wrote a further article, published on 4 June in The Independent newspaper[32], arguing that the QAA should be incorporated into Hefce and a new Standards Assurance Agency should be set up.

The University's criticisms of QAA and of the regulatory regime have been endorsed by the House of Commons Select Committee[33] as discussed in The Times newspaper by Professor Geoffrey Alderman on 4 August 2009[34].

Alumni and honorary graduates

Honorary graduates include: Sir Martin Evans, Nobel prizewinner in medicine; the Rt Hon Frank Field, the Labour MP; Sir Steven Redgrave the Olympic oarsman; Professor Susan Greenfield, the scientist; Baroness Noakes; Sir Stuart Hampson, former head of the John Lewis Partnership; Sir Christopher Ondaatje; Hernando de Soto, Peruvian economist; historian Lord Skidelsky, and journalist Charles Moore.

Prominent alumni include: Bader Ben Hirsi, Susanne Klatten, Michael Misick, Brandon Lewis, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and Mark Lancaster, the MP for Milton Keynes.

Prominent international alumni include Pravind Jugnauth MP in the Mauritius parliament, former Deputy Prime Minister, and the Leader of one of Mauritius's main parties, the Militant Socialist Movement.

In the BBC Radio 4 panel game The Museum of Curiosity, host John Lloyd claims to be, "The Professor of Ignorance at the University of Buckingham".

Author V. M. Xavier presented special cultural performances at student functions in the 1980s.[citation needed]

External degrees

The University awards undergraduate and graduate (Masters/MBA) degrees to students who have studied at the European School of Economics and at the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology.


The current Chancellor is Sir Martin Jacomb, Chairman of Canary Wharf Group PLC, and Share PLC (in Aylesbury), and the director of other companies including Oxford Playhouse Trust. He was Chairman of Prudential PLC from 1995 to 2000 and last year retired from the boards of Rio Tinto Group and Marks & Spencer. Former Chancellors of the university have been Margaret Thatcher who retired in 1999, and Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone.

The current Vice-Chancellor is Dr Terence Kealey, formerly of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at Cambridge University, who has held the post since April 2001. Kealey sparked a sexism row in September 2009, when he wrote in a Times Higher Education article that young female students were a "perk" for male academics and they should "look but not touch".[35] The backlash was swift from academics[36] and Kealey was criticised by the University and College Union and the National Union of Students who said his comments displayed an “astounding lack of respect for women”.[37][38] Kealey wrote a defense of his piece in the THE and was defended by the editor.[39]

In February 2010, Kealey proposed the establishment of a new independent university, modelled on American liberal arts colleges, that would concentrate on undergraduate teaching rather than research.[40][41] The plan is currently being considered by the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), whose 243 members include independent schools such as Eton, Winchester and St Paul's. Kealey believes that complaints about impersonal teaching and oversized classes at many traditional universities mean there will be strong demand for higher education with staff-student ratios similar to that provided by independent secondary schools.

University of Buckingham Press

The University of Buckingham Press publishes in the areas of law, education, and business through its journal articles, books, reports and other material. In 2006 the press relaunched The Denning Law Journal[42] and it is now available in print and its whole archive is online.[43]. It also publishes two other journals; The Journal of Prediction Markets,[44] and The Journal of Gambling Business and Economics.[45] It has a co-publishing arrangement with The Policy Exchange[46] for its Foundations series.

International connections

The university has close links with colleges abroad including the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, an independent university college in Bosnia.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Buckingham University Profile". Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Times, 27 May 1967, p. 20.
  4. ^ a b Buckingham at 25, ed. James Tooley (2001), p. 25.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "A student's guide to... University of Buckingham". Times Online. 14 February 2008. 
  8. ^ ""Freeing universities to charge higher fees will be a bargain" says Terence Kealey - Daily Telegraph 4 June 2009". Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  9. ^ "The Sunday Times University Guide". Retrieved 15 September 2009. 
  10. ^ "Profile: The University of Buckingham". Retrieved 15 September 2009. 
  11. ^ "Graduate unemployment rises". Retrieved 22 July 2009. 
  12. ^ "National Student Survey 2006". 
  13. ^ "National Student Survey 2007". 
  14. ^ "National Student Survey 2008". 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Hannah Fearn (13 August 2009). "Overall satisfaction falls, but small places win big smiles". Times Higher Education. 
  17. ^ Guardian University guide 2010: English
  18. ^ Guardian University guide 2010: Business and Management Studies
  19. ^ Guardian University guide 2010: Law
  20. ^ "World Universities Rankings". QS. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ ""A grotesque bidding game is undermining university standards" says Geoffrey Alderman - In higher education, there is too much emphasis on public image and ‘customer satisfaction' - The Times 18 June 2008". Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2008 - ISBN 978 1 84482 881 4" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  26. ^ ""The QAA's promotion of bureaucratic centralisation cannot go unchecked" says Terence Kealey - reform is needed - Times Higher Education 16 September 2008". Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  27. ^ ""Buckingham: why QAA has 'serious' concerns" Peter Williams, Chief Executive, Quality Assurance Agency - Times Higher Education 23 September 2008". Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  28. ^ ""Research on sex offenders: v-c hits back at QAA claim" Melanie Newman - Times Higher Education 23 September 2008". Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  29. ^ ""Checks and balances: Degrees won't be trusted until regulation changes" says Terence Kealey - The Guardian 11 November 2008". Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  30. ^ ""Watch and learn: Was Terence Kealey right to argue on these pages last week that the regulation of universities is in crisis?" says Peter Williams and Gillian Evans - The Guardian 18 November 2008". Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  31. ^ ""Deflated degrees: The honours degree system must not be allowed to die" says Terence Kealey - The Guardian 24 February 2009". Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  32. ^ ""We need to set up a new standards agency" says Terence Kealey - The Independent 4 June 2009". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  33. ^ ""Students and Universities" - Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee (Eleventh Report of Session 2008-09) 2 August 2009". Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  34. ^ ""A blind eye has been turned to cheating in universities" says Geoffrey Alderman - The Times 4 August 2009". Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  35. ^ Matthew Reisz (17 September 2009). "The seven deadly sins of the academy". Times Higher Education. 
  36. ^ Letters to Times Higher Education: [1], [2], [3], [4]
  37. ^ Graeme Paton (23 Sep 2009). "Vice-chancellor: female students are 'a perk'". 
  38. ^ Tim Edwards (SEPTEMBER 24, 2009). "Terence Kealey sparks university sexism row". First Post.,people,news,buckingham-university-vice-chancellor-terence-kealey-sparks-sexism-row. 
  39. ^ Terence Kealey (23 September 2009). "A response to criticism". Times Higher Education. 
  40. ^ Sian Griffiths (7 February 2010). "Private schools plan to set up university". Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-3-17. 
  41. ^ Lucy Hodges (10 February 2010). "The Big Question: Should we encourage independent schools to set up a private university?". Independent. Retrieved 2010-3-17. 
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^

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