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The University of Buckingham (UB) is a private university located in Buckinghammarker,in north Buckinghamshire, England, on the banks of the River Great Ouse. Although there are many private universities in other countries, including some of America's best known institutions, Buckingham is the only private university in the United Kingdommarker. The university offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees through five schools of study. The university has the highest ranking in the UK for student satisfaction. Its best-rated departments are English, Business, and Law.

Law and Science are situated in the upper campus. The river-side campus covers Humanities, Business, Social Sciences, Biomedical science, and Education. Teaching on some master's degrees takes place in London, in Grosvenor Placemarker, 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.

History

Yeomanry House
Some of the founding academics migrated from the University of Oxford, 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" Three London conferences followed which explored this idea .

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 Universitymarker, and Fellow of the British Academy; and Sir Richard Luce, now Lord Luce, the former Minister for the Arts.

Teaching

The Tanlaw Mill
The university's five main faculties are Law, Humanities, Business, Science, and Medicine. Each of these is presided over by a Dean of Studies, an academic leader in his or her field.

In relation to teaching, the university is best known for continuing the tradition of "tutorial" (i.e small group) teaching 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. It is this personalized teaching which gives the university its distinctive mood and ethos. The staff-student ratio is 1:8.4, which is high among UK universities. 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" because of the good staff-student ratio.

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 (PGCE) – 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 university was – in the spirit of North-American Ivy League Universities – 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, thus cementing the links between the two libertarian bodies.

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

Degrees: timescale and cost

The Anthony de Rothschild Building
The university offers traditional degrees over a shorter time-frame. Students at Buckingham study for 8 terms over two years, rather than 9 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 2-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 arguing that getting better-funded and more effective universities means charging higher fees.

Research

The Franciscan Building at Verney Park
The University's research strengths are 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 The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

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

Reputation and Ranking

The Chandos Road Building
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 . 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 ...". 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 in Britain.

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, 2007 and 2008 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 organization, to determine satisfaction levels at UK universities. 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.

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

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

Quality

Buckingham has over 80 nationalities represented in its student body
The University was a pioneer of quality and its Royal Charter, unusually, provides for 3 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 demonstrated that degree inflation had taken off in the 10 years of the QAA’s existence. This lecture provoked a wide national debate which encouraged the House of Commons Select Committee to review quality and related issues.

The University got broad confidence its first QAA audit in 2003. 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."

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

A few weeks later, Dr Kealey discussed the QAA in a feature article in the Guardian newspaper. A week later the Chief Executive of QAA and Professor Gill Evans responded in the same paper. 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 .

In June 2009 Dr Kealey wrote a further article, published on 4 June in The Independent newspaper, 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 as discussed in The Times newspaper by Professor Geoffrey Alderman on 4 August 2009.

Alumni and Honorary Graduates

The Academic Procession at Graduation


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 Christopher Ondaatje; Hernando de Soto; and Lord Skidelsky, the historian.

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.

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 Technologymarker.

Chancellorship

Dr Terence Kealey
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.

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 and it is now available in print and its whole archive is online.. It also publishes two other journals; The Journal of Prediction Markets, and The Journal of Gambling Business and Economics. It has a co-publishing arrangement with The Policy Exchange for its Foundations series.

International connections

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

References

  1. http://britishdegree.com/Buckingham.asp
  2. The Times, 27 May 1967, p. 20.
  3. Buckingham at 25, ed. James Tooley (2001), p. 25.
  4. http://www.independent.co.uk/student/into-university/az-uni-colleges/buckingham-university-of-458882.html
  5. http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/facts/statistics/
  6. The Times Good University Guide (2009), p. 156.
  7. http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/news/newsarchive2008/nss-08.html
  8. Guardian University guide 2010: English
  9. Guardian University guide 2010: Business and Management Studies
  10. Guardian University guide 2010: Law
  11. http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/news/newsarchive2008/alderman.html
  12. http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/ius/ius_301008.cfm
  13. http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/news/newsarchive2004/qaa-party.html
  14. http://www.denninglawjournal.com
  15. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ubpl/dlj
  16. http://www.predictionmarketjournal.com
  17. http://www.jgbe.com
  18. http://www.policyexchange.org.uk


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