University of Buckingham

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The University of Buckingham is the UK's only private University and is in the unique position of being independent of government funding or control, 'its ethos is influenced by libertarian ideas and the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs'.[1][2] Vice-Chancellor Terence Kealey, rejects the description of the University as right-wing, preferring the label 'libertarian'[3]. The Institution was opened by Margaret Thatcher in 1976, at this time it had college status, in 1983 it was granted University status following financial subsidies from Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government[4][5]. Margaret Thatcher is a notable and vocal supporter of the University, having formally opening it in 1976, and having been its Chancellor from 1992 until 1998[6][7]. The awards day at the University is called Thatcher Day. In November 2000, Margaret Thatcher's husband, Denis, was awarded an honorary degree by the university for being an "English gentleman" [8]. The university has very close links with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), and it was founded in 1973 with the support of Harry Ferns and Ralph Harris[9][10]. Its links with the IEA continue to this day, through publications, conferences, and shared staff members (Julian Morris[11][12] and Dennis O'Keeffe[13]).


On May 27th 1967, The Times published a letter from Dr J. W. Paulley, which argued that creating private universities in the United Kingdom would improve the standard of state run universities as, he argued, had been the case in the USA[14]. Three London conferences were set up to promote the idea of creating private universities following Paulley’s letter, two were held in 1968 and one in 1969. Max Beloff, then Gladstone Professor of Politics at Oxford and later first Principal of the University College at Buckingham, Professor Harry Ferns and Ralph Harris all supported the idea of creating private sector universities in the UK. Harry Ferns and Ralph Harris were both prominent members of the Institute of Economic Affairs, an ‘organisation whose ideas have played a major role in the development’ of the University of Buckingham[15]. On March 29th 1973 the University College at Buckingham (UCB) was incorporated, in the form of a non-profit making company registered as an educational charity[16]. The Council of Management held its first formal meeting in 1973 and Lord Hailsham, the Lord Chancellor, became the first Visitor of the College and laid its Foundation stone in May 1974[17]. UCB was formally opened in February 1976 by Margaret Thatcher, who was then the Secretary of State for Education. Initially the college had 65 students'[18]. When the University of Buckingham was first set up in 1976 it was seen by critics as a 'centre for Right-wing studies'[19]. Martin Reisz describes the creation of the University:

Anyone who lived through the 1970s and 1980s will remember the programme of "rolling back the frontiers of the state" which was promoted by free- market think-tanks such as the Institute of Economic Affairs and then enjoyed a brief official vogue under Thatcher. This was one of the strands that led to the creation of Buckingham in 1976. Something of the tone of the times is well caught by an early recruit, Martin Ricketts, who describes himself as a classical liberal and now serves as dean of humanities[20].

Ricketts argued that he joined the University ‘because of extreme irritation with the dominance of the state within higher education’ he argued that ‘there was a great deal of resentment at the extent to which the state was interfering in all sorts of areas of the economy’. And that ‘this needed to be reversed’[21]. According to The Economist in 1983, the University of Buckingham 'set out, under its first principal, Lord Beloff, to be a tough commercial operation: under his sturdy successor, Professor Alan Peacock, it now [1983] covers its teaching costs with fee income and its capital costs from private donations[22]. Lord Beloff describes an early dilemma over Academic freedom before the institution had been granted University status:

'In the early days of the University College at Buckingham (now the University of Buckingham) I had the painful experience - as principal - of declining an offer from a distinguished person to give a lecture on the Middle East problem. I knew that he would express a strongly pro-Israeli view with which I would find myself in large agreement. But I felt that if he came, and our Arab or other Muslim students asked to be allowed to invite another speaker to put the pro-Palestinian case, I would not be able to refuse them. And I felt that when I was trying to build up an academic community containing Jews and Arabs, Ibos and Yorubas, Malays, Chinese and Indians from Malaysia and other disparate elements it was desirable in those early days not to encourage divisions on national, religious or other grounds. I still think I was right'[23]

In 1985 Madsen Pirie delivered a lecture entitled 'The Privatization Option; A Strategy to Shrink the Size of Government', Pirie praised the University of Buckingham arguing that:

'Britain's universities were all completely state dominated, a public sector activity. The little University of Buckingham, which had opened with 63 students, was adopted by the Thatcher government. It was given a royal charter and the rights to grant degrees and to call itself a university. It now has over 500 students and is flourishing'[24]

In 1992 Margaret Thatcher became the university's chancellor succeeding Lord Hailsham[25]. The following year, 1992, Buckingham established links with Bahrain University in order to share consultancy and joint research work[26]. In 1993 the Polytechnic and University Students' Handbook described the University of Buckingham as the 'most Right-wing' educational institution in Britain[27][28].


Academic freedom

Academic Freedom is not protected at private universities like Buckingham. According to a Guardian report

One of the key factors behind British universities' international reputation is their commitment to academic freedom, which they have built into their constitutions from the 1988 Education Reform Act. This guarantees academics' right to publish controversial or unpopular material without fear of reprisal - something that private providers aren't required to offer.[29]

As the Guardian reported 'By their very definition, private universities will always be subject to their own authorities.' Buckingham, as a private university is 'subject to QAA inspection, but they are not covered by Freedom of Information legislation.'[29]


Welfare Reform

In 1987 the University of Buckingham produced a report into the different options for welfare reform. Options discussed included 'schemes for making the unemployed take tests or menial jobs before qualifying for benefit, as [was] done in the United States'[30]. Lord Young argued that the Conservatives would not implement an American style workfare program but they would utilise the Universities report in reforming the welfare system[31].

The report was written by John Burton who was a research director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, the report was commissioned by the Department of Employment and concluded that 'there is a case for adopting workfare in Britain, although it would not lead to much saving in the cost of unemployment to the Exchequer'[32].

Pension Reform

According to Paul Foot, following the Conservative Party election victory in 1983 a 'gang of tightly knit Thatcherites' who were closely linked to the University of Buckingham, 'decided on a big push for private enterprise in the field of old age pensions'. Foot argues that the idea was developed and implemented by Tony Newton the then minister of state for social security, Norman Fowler and John Major by using the Social Security Act. Foot describes how this led to 'swarms of "agents" from companies like the Prudential and Legal and General' who:

scoured the country for suckers in occupational schemes who could be flogged a private scheme instead. At least a million people became victims. Almost all the schemes they were sold turned out to be worse than the schemes they left[33].


As of August 2010 the University has 700 full time undergraduates and 45 part time students. 55% of the students are international students and 41% are mature students[34].

Departments / Staff

Buckingham operates via a number of Schools and Departments. These are the Business School (19 academic staff[35]), Department of Education (4 staff)[36], School of Humanities, (including English, Journalism, Communication and Modern Languages - with 12 academic staff[37]), Department of Economics and International Studies, (11 academic and 12 visiting staff[38], incorporating International Studies, Politics, Economics and History and itself part of the School of Humanities), School of Humanities, Law School, School of Medicine (12 Staff), School of Science (incorporating 'Departments' of Psychology (6 academic staff, 4 support staff and 4 visiting lecturers[39]), Applied Computing (7 Staff and visiting Professor and an administrator[40]) and Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Disease. (7 academic/research staff, 3 postdoctoral fellows, 3 support staff, 4 Honorary or visiting positions[41]).


Vice chancellors


Honorary degrees


Former Staff

Economics and International Studies

Circa 2010

Geoffrey Alderman, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History | John Clarke, Professor of History | Anthony Glees, Professor of Politics | Richard Langhorne, Professor of Global Politics | Michael McCrostie, Chairman of International Studies Degree Programmes, Senior Lecturer in Economics; Admissions Tutor | Malcolm Rees, Lecturer in Economics | Martin Ricketts, Dean of the School of Humanities, Professor of Economic Organisation | Julian Richards, Deputy Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies | Jane Ridley, Professor of History | Adam Tebble, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory | Geoffrey Wood, Professor of Monetary Economics[45]

Emeritus professors
Visiting staff

Department of Education

Circa 2010

Peter Ireland Head of the Department of Education Course Director for MEd in Educational Leadership | Professor Anthony O'Hear Garfield Weston Professor of Philosophy | Professor Chris Woodhead | Sir Stanley Kalms Professor of Education | Professor Dennis O'Keeffe Research Professor in Education Editor of The Salisbury Review.[47]

School of Humanities

Professor Geoffrey Alderman | Professor John Clarke | Catherine Damon | Professor Saul David | Dr Paul Davis | Dr John M L Drew | Dr Stefan Hawlin | Professor Richard Langhorne | Professor Anthony O'Hear | Professor Dennis O'Keeffe | Professor David Paroissien | Professor Martin Ricketts | Professor Jane Ridley | Professor Roger Scruton | Professor Geoffrey Wood | Professor Chris Woodhead[48]

  • Professor Gwyn Prins, Visiting Professor in Modern War Studies (circa 2013-14) [49]

School of Medicine

Professor Jayantha Arnold, MBBS, MRCS, FRCP | Professor Stephen Ash, MBBS, BSc, FRCP | Professor Peter Evans, MBBS, MD, FRCP | Professor Jaspal Kooner, MBBS, MD, FRCP | Dr Kenneth Langlands, BSc, PhD Admissions Tutor & Co-ordinator of the Buckingham module | Professor William Lynn, MBBS, MD, FRCP | Professor Piyush Prasad MBBS, MD (Pediatrics), DCH (Dublin), Dip.CH (Calcutta), FICMCH Visiting Professor in Paediatrics | Professor Rajat Mathur, MBBS, MD, FRCP, PhD (Edin) Postgraduate Dean, Clinical Medicine | Professor Andrew Miles, MSc, MPhil, PhD | Professor Simon Payne, MBBS, LLM, FRCS, FCEM |Professor Andrew Scurr, MBBS, FRCA | Professor Karol Sikora, MA, MBBChir, PhD, FRCR, FRCP, FFPM[50]


The University’s income is managed by a separate charity the University of Buckingham Foundation, which took control of the university's endowment fund in 2003[51].


Garfield Weston Foundation | Legal and General | Slough Estates Foundation (Now SEGRO) | John Desborough | Stanley Kalms Foundation

Food Industry funding

The Garfield Weston Foundation has provided funding which has endowed a Chair named after the founder of the foundation: the Garfield Weston Professor of Philosophy, a position held by Professor Anthony O'Hear[52] Weston was the head of a series of companies in the food industry At 5 April 2006, the Foundation owned 79.2 per cent of Wittington Investments Limited, a company registered in England. Wittington Investments is the ultimate holding company of Associated British Foods plc, which is listed on the International Stock Exchange, and Fortnum and Mason plc and Heal’s plc.


Patrons are donors who have given the University in excess of £100,000[53].

Bernard Sunley Foundation | British American Tobacco | Brunner Sons' Charitable Trust | Warren bequest | Eranda Foundation | MB Foundation Diabetes | Lord Tanlaw | Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust | SmithKline Beecham | Garfield Weston Foundation | The Tudor Trust | Charles Clore Charitable Trust | Radcliffe Trust | Christopher Ondaatje | Slough Estates | Dixons Group Plc | The Sultan of Brunei | P & O Ferries | James Gulliver | Wolfson Foundation

Powerbase Resources, Further Reading, Notes

Powerbase resources

Further reading

Contact Details

  • Hunter Street
  • Buckingham
  • MK18 1EG
  • United Kingdom
  • Tel: +44 (0)1280 814080
  • Fax: +44 (0)1280 822245
  • Email: info AT
  • Web:


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  2. Martin Walker, Sir Martin Jacomb, the veteran banker [...]; City Diary ; In the blue corner Lord Tanlaw, The Times, 5-May-2010
  3. The Guardian, The third degree, The Guardian, 17-September-2002, Accessed 01-September-2010
  4. Independent, Buckingham, University of, The Independent, 11-August-2010, Accessed 01-September-2010
  5. The Economist, Ins and outs of 1980, The Economist, 3-January-1981
  6. International News, Thatcher Appointed Chancellor of Private University, Associated Press, 30-July-1991
  7. International News, Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher likes the look of herself, Associated Press Worldstream, 3-September-1998
  8. BBC News,Honorary degree for Sir Denis, BBC News, 10-November-2000, Accessed 01-September-2010
  9. About the IEA, Chronology, Institute of Economic Growth, Accessed 02-September-2010
  10. University of Buckingham, History of the University, University of Buckingham, 02-September-2010
  11. Julian Morris, Catastrophe and prosperity, Daily News Egypt, 30-August-2010
  12. "Julian Morris", International Policy Network, Accessed 3-September-2010.
  13. Dennis O'Keeffe, Professor Dennis O'Keeffe, Research Professor in Education, University of Buckingham, Accessed 03-September-2010
  14. University of Buckingham, History, University of Buckingham, Accessed 02-September-2010
  15. University of Buckingham, History, University of Buckingham, Accessed 02-September-2010
  16. University of Buckingham, History, University of Buckingham, Accessed 02-September-2010
  17. University of Buckingham, History, University of Buckingham, Accessed 02-September-2010
  18. University of Buckingham, History, University of Buckingham, Accessed 02-September-2010
  19. Bruce Kemble, UNIVERSITY REPAYS DEBT TO THATCHER, Evening Times, 30-September-1992
  20. Mathew Reisz, Bucking the system, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 1-January-2009
  21. Mathew Reisz, Bucking the system, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 1-January-2009
  22. The Economist, Royal charter for Buckingham, The Economist, 19-February-1983
  23. Max Beloff, Free speech - but common sense too / Proposed amendment to Education Bill (1056) /SCT, The Times, 21-June-1986
  24. Madsen Pirie, Lecture 4 The British Experience, Heritage Foundation Reports, 1985, The Heritage Foundation
  25. Press Association, Home News, Press Association, 30-July-1991
  26. Gulf Daily News, Bahrain University plans closer UK links, Moneyclips, 15-January-1992
  27. Daily Mail, Learning to turn Left in Luton; West Indian poet wins Nobel Prize, The Daily Mail, 9-October-1992
  28. Donald MacLeod, Beer price and politics feature in student guide, The Independent, 10-October-1992
  29. 29.0 29.1 Rowenna Davis Third degree for private universities August 1, 2010 Sunday
  30. Sheila Gunn, Parliament: Tories 'plotting against jobless', The Times, 23-April-1987
  31. James Naughtie, Tories to deny US jobless plan, The Guardian, 23-April-1987
  32. Keith Harper, Frontiers: Now no work means no dole -If the Tories win again then compulsory labour could be on the cards for millions, The Guardian, 23-April-1987
  33. Paul Foot, Comment & Analysis: Swindle of the age, The Guardian, 19-March-2002
  34. Independent, Buckingham, University of, The Independent, 11-August-2010, Accessed 01-September-2010
  35. Buckingham University Business School faculty and administrative staff, accessed 3 September 2010
  36. Buckingham University Department of Education >> Staff , accessed 3 September 2010
  37. Buckingham University Staff, accessed 3 September 2010
  38. Buckingham University Staff members accessed 3 September 2010
  39. Buckingham University Psychology >> About our Department >> Staff, accessed 3 September 2010
  40. Buckingham University About Applied Computing >> Staff, accessed 3 September 2010
  41. Buckingham University Clore Laboratory: Staff Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Research, accessed 3 September 2010
  42. David Hearst, Review of child benefit 'hijacked by right' / Labour MP calls for scrapping of review or dismissal of the two non-government members, The Guardian, 14-September-1984
  43. Buckingham University Directory of experts: Julian Morris, accessed 3 September 2010
  44. Buckingham University Directory of experts: Dr David Green, accessed 3 September 2010
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 University of Buckingham, Staff members, accessed 2 September 2010.
  46. Julian Morris, Catastrophe and prosperity, Daily News Egypt, 30-August-2010
  47. Buckingham University Department of Education >> Staff , accessed 3 September 2010
  48. University of Buckingham of Humanities >> People, accessed 3 September 2010
  49. Visiting Professor in Modern War Studies, acc 11 March 2014
  50. Buckingham University Medical School >> Postgraduate Medical School: Clinical MD in General Internal Medicine >> Staff, accessed 3 September 2010
  51. University of Buckingham, Financial statements for the year ended 31st December 2006, University of Buckingham, Accessed 05-September-2010
  52. Buckingham University Department of Education >> Staff , accessed 3 September 2010
  53. Patrons, Patrons, University of Buckingham, Accessed 03-September-2010