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I have an article out on the sources of university income in the UK and Australia across the 20th century. To tempt you to read it, I’m going to try my hand at a twitter thread (which I have mostly just cut and pasted here!) @EmeraldGlobal (1/13)

[You can read the free-to-access pre-print version of this article here]

Where does funding for universities come from? How has this changed across the 20th century? How do patterns in Australia and the UK compare? These seem pretty important questions right now for lots of reasons @HistEdSocUK @ANZHistEdSoc #auspol (2/13)


But answering them is hard because there is no official time series data on university income in Australia that is comparable with Vincent Carpentier’s quite brilliant UK study. @ResearchCGHE (3/13)

Vincent Carpentier (2004), “Historical statistics on the funding and development of the UK university system, 1920-2002. [Data collection]”, UK Data Service. SN:4971

Problem is: data + politics. Availability & quality reflects different periods of university governance. As @andrewjnorton says, “different historical data sources do not always match”. The 1970s & 80s in particular are a bit of a mystery (4/13)

But surely it’s possible to do better than this 2014 effort from the @Go8 ??? (5/13)

From the Group of Eight’s submission to the 2014 Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment

So I trawled the CTEC reports and Yearbooks and other sources to create (with lots of data caveats) a comparable series for Australia and updated Carpentier’s series as well. What does it show??? (6/13)

Australian universities’ income from all sources since 1922 reveals three distinct periods: mixed 1922-1947; government-led 1952-1987; cost-sharing incl. international students 1992-2017. (7/13)

Similar patterns are evident in the UK, but there domestic student fees have come to make up much greater percentage of income (as it is likely too in Australia post Tehan reforms) (8/13)

Grouping these categories to show universities’ “private” income (ie international student fees & private income such as investments) makes these patterns even clearer for Australia. (9/13)

And the UK shows how domestic student fees have been used as a substitute for govt support. The % revenue universities’ receive from public sources is at its lowest since WW1 (for more graphs see the article!) (10/13)

So what? Do these graphs point to the end of the public as an organising principle of our political, economic & institutional life? (pace @James11Vernon) (11/13)

Comparison w the UK was crucial to the foundation of @uniaus argue @ejwaghorne & @Gwil_C – Given the challenges of covid + climate, perhaps now the time to make new comparisons about the way #highered has and can be funded? (12/13)

Photo credit: Ali Amin @NUS_Welfare – South Australian students holding a snap protest outside office of @Stirling_G

For the full article see T. Pietsch, ‘A history of university income in the United Kingdom and Australia, 1922-2017’, History of Education Review (2020) 49:2, 229-248 The free-to-access pre-print version is here. (13/13)