Reform of 'messy, muddled' higher education system could see half of Britain's universities closed


Half the country’s universities should be closed in sweeping reforms to the UK’s “messy, muddled” higher education system, according to the former head of the body which represents university vice-chancellors.

Sir Roderick Floud, the former president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University said the country had “too many universities” and that institutions in cities like London, Leeds, Oxford and Sheffield should either be closed or merged.

The current system was “unnecessary and inefficient” because too many universities were trying to do “too many things at once, he argued in an interview with the Times Higher Education magazine.

Sir Roderick also suggested universities like Oxford and Cambridge should concentrate on research and stop recruiting students.

The interview comments came just before he delivered a valedictory lecture to Gresham College, London, last night - where he has been provost for the past six years.

They are at odds with Universities Secretary David Willetts’ view of the future higher education. He has signalled an expansion in student numbers through the lifting the cap on recruitment for individual institutions.