University of Buckingham

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The University of Buckingham is one of only two private universities in the United Kingdom, the other is Richmond University . It has come into prominence in recent years by being ranked first in two consecutive years in the National Student Survey, the league-table of student satisfaction in the UK. Its two campuses are in Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, about 20 miles north-east of Oxford and 15 miles west of Milton Keynes. One campus is devoted mainly to Law, while the other, the riverside campus in the middle of town, focuses on Business, Humanities, and Science. Buckingham is the only university independent of direct government support in the United Kingdom. Prominent academics include Roger Scruton (the philosopher), Alan Smithers (the educationalist), John Adamson (the historian), Jane Ridley (the biographer), and Chris Woodhead (the former Chief Inspector of Schools).


Some of Buckingham's 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 two Vice Chancellors (academic and administrative heads) were Lord Beloff and Sir Alan Peacock, both of whom were distinguished academics and prominent libertarians.


The main campus of the university is in the middle of the historic county town, and caught within a bend of the river Ouse, and comprises seventeenth-century, eighteenth-century, and nineteenth-century buildings, as well as modern purpose-built teaching blocks. Some of the large student halls of residence have pleasant locations directly onto the river. The large and historic Tanlaw Mill, directly next to the river, acts as one of the students' social centres, with bars, gym, cafe, and other facilities. The modern Clore Laboratory is also located near here, as is the elegant Hunter Street, on which Yeomanry House acts as the university's administrative hub. The modern Antony de Rothchild Building, overlooking the river on the other side, houses the department of International Studies and Economics. On the other side of the river, the Chandos Building is another complex, comprising large lecture theatres, language-learning and media suites, exam halls, and gallery spaces. The university's second main campus site is up the hill, nearer to the edge of the town. Its central imposing brick building was formally a convent.


The university has four main faculties: Law, Humanities, Business, and Science. In relation to teaching, it is best known for continuing the tradition of 'tutorial' teaching which its founders brought over from the University of Oxford: while there are seminars and large-scale lectures, much teaching is done in small groups (of 4 to 8 students), with one member of staff, so that it is personalised. The staff:student ratio is 1:10, which ranks it very high in this respect among UK universities. The quality of the university's provision is maintained (as at other universities) by an External Examiner system (i.e. professors from other universities oversee and report on exams and marking), by an Academic Advisory Council, and also by conformity to the principles and ideals evolved by the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education).

The university offers traditional degrees, but over a shorter time-frame. Students study for 8 terms over two years, rather than 9 terms over three, which (with extra teaching) fits the three-year degree into two years. From September 2008, tuition fees for full-time UK/EU undergraduate students will be £6,030 per year for these 2-year Bachelors degree programmes. For non-EU students, fees will be equivalent to £10,125 p.a. (£2,250 per term, increasing to £3,375 per term). Because Buckingham's degrees take only two years to complete, the University views its courses as cost-effective compared to ordinary UK tuition fees, once the calculation for living expenses and the income from an extra year's employment are factored in.


The university's research strengths are in a number of disparate areas: in Law, family law and law relating to gender; in Humanities, Dickens, with the Dickens Journals Online (DJO) project, and also Biography and Life-writing; in Business, particularly entrepreneurship; and in Science, particularly diabetes, obesity, and metabolic research (at the Clore Laboratory) and face recognition systems (within Computer Sciences). 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'. Their reports feature regularly in the national press. The Dickens Journals Online project aims to make available free, for schools, universities and others, a complete online edition of Dickens's weekly magazines, a rich slice of nineteenth-century literature, opinion, information, and history. The Denning Law Journal is edited from within the law faculty by Professor Susan Edwards.

Other Facts

The University was -- in the spirit of North-American Ivy League Universities[citation needed] -- 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's Academic Advisory Council, thus cementing the links between the two libertarian bodies.

The University's largest school is Law, followed by Humanities, Business studies, and Accounting. Some science departments such as Biology are heavily focussed on research and offer only research degrees; others such as Psychology and Computer Sciences and information sciences offer the full range of degrees.

Following the success at coming top in the National Student Survey, the University's flagship school, the School of Law, has been recognised with a top 20 place out of 90 in the Guardian league tables.

The University has close links with colleges abroad including the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, an independent college in Bosnia. The University has also established the postgraduate medical school under the leadership of Professor Karol Sikora. The expected intake for the postgraduate MD in Clinical Medicine is September 2008.

The Department of Education has some of the most prominent educationalists in Britain including Professor Chris Woodhead (former head of OFSTED), Professor Anthony O'Hear (the director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy) and Professor Alan Smithers on the staff, and its Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) - which specialises in the independent sector – has recently been accredited Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and so also now qualifies graduates to teach in the state sector.

Alumni include: Richard Ballerand, Bader Ben Hirsi, Susanne Klatten,Brandon Lewis, and Olagunsoye Oyinlola. 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". Prominent author V M Xavier presented special cultural performances at student functions in the 1980's.

External degrees

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


The current Chancellor is Sir Martin Jacomb - the Chairman of Canary Wharf Group PLC, and Share PLC (in Aylesbury), and the director of several 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 PLC and Marks & Spencer PLC. 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 who has held the post since April 2001. He is a well-known academic specialising in Clinical Biochemistry.

University of Buckingham Press

University of Buckingham Press publishes in the areas of law, education and business through its journal articles, books, reports and other material.


External links

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