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University autonomy is at the forefront of the current higher education debate

University autonomy is a pretty tricky thing to define. It shouldn’t be. The word ‘autonomy’ is synonymous with freedom, self-determination and sovereignty; while the word university can be applied to 150 or so institutions in the UK that have proven their right to use the title.

In recent weeks, though, the line between government guidance and government instruction has seemed increasingly thin. As a consequence, the concept of autonomy is up in the air—and instead of offering universities an assurance of independence, it feels like the idea of institutional sovereignty is of more use to the government than it is to providers.

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