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1994 Group dies of status anxiety

The 1994 Group’s demise shows the uncertainties and growing divisions in UK higher education—and will enhance the Russell Group’s dominance, even if its aura is largely illusory, says Roger Brown.

In one sense, the 1994 Group’s decision to wind itself up is a surprise. Mission groups have been a fact of life since soon after the abolition of the binary line—the division between universities and polytechnics—in 1992. There remains a division between the larger and smaller universities that receive substantial amounts of research funding, especially as most of the larger ones have medical schools. So there is still a distinct interest to be represented. The 1994 Group produced some important reports, and occupied clear ground between the Russell Group, the somewhat amorphous, ‘business-facing’ University Alliance, the Million+ group and GuildHE.

In another sense, though, the news was not a shock. It was probably inevitable once four of the 1994 Group’s members were poached by the Russell Group last year and three others left. Reading’s later departure provided the coup de grâce.

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