University of Buckingham

Not to be confused with Buckinghamshire New University.
University of Buckingham
Motto Alis Volans Propriis (Latin)
Motto in English
"Flying On Our Own Wings"
Type Private
Established 1976 as university college[1]
1983 as university[1]
Chancellor Tessa Keswick
Vice-Chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon
Administrative staff
97 academic, 103 support[2]
Students 2,245 (2014/15)[3]
Undergraduates 1,150 (2014/15)[3]
Postgraduates 1,095 (2014/15)[3]
Location Buckingham, England
51°59′45″N 0°59′31″W / 51.99583°N 0.99194°W / 51.99583; -0.99194Coordinates: 51°59′45″N 0°59′31″W / 51.99583°N 0.99194°W / 51.99583; -0.99194
The Church of St Rumbold in Buckingham now forms part of the University of Buckingham.

The University of Buckingham (UB) is a non-profit, private university in the UK and the oldest of the country's five private universities.[lower-alpha 1] It is located in Buckingham, England, and was originally founded as the University College at Buckingham (UCB) in 1973.[1] It was granted university status by royal charter in 1983.[1] The university was closely linked to Margaret Thatcher, who as Education Secretary oversaw the creation of the university college in 1973, and as Prime Minister was instrumental in elevating it to a university in 1983 – thus creating the first private university in the UK. When she retired from politics in 1992, Lady Thatcher became the university's second chancellor, a post she held until 1998.[8]

The university's finances for teaching operate entirely on direct student fees and endowments: it does not receive state funding (via HEFCE or otherwise). It has formal charity status as a not-for-profit institution dedicated to the ends of research and education.[9][10][11]

Buckingham offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctoral degrees through five "schools" (or faculties) of study.

The university is a member of the Independent Universities Group, created in January 2015 by eight non-profit and for-profit institutions with degree-awarding powers and/or university title. The group's aim is to be “the Russell Group of the alternative sector” and to dissociate its members from more “dodgy” for-profit colleges.[12] The university is one of the twenty-six English universities with a School of Medicine, i.e. it trains doctors at undergraduate and postgraduate level.


Some of the founding academics migrated from the University of Oxford,[13] disillusioned or wary of aspects of the late-1960s ethos. On 27 May 1967, The Times published a letter from J. W. Paulley, a physician, who wrote:

"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."[14]

Three London conferences followed which explored this idea.[15]

Subsequently, the university was incorporated as the University College of Buckingham in 1976 and received its Royal Charter from the Queen in 1983. As of May 2016, it is the only private university in the UK with a royal charter.[16]

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


A weir and mill that fall within Buckingham University's Hunter Street campus.
Tanlaw Mill, formerly the old Town Mill (OTM)

Near the centre of the town of Buckingham is the riverside campus, which is partly contained within a south-turning bend of the River Great Ouse. Here, on or just off Hunter Street, are some of the university's central buildings: the Reception and central administration; the Anthony de Rothchild building (which contains Business and Economics); the Humanities Library; and also some of the student accommodation, looking northwards across the river. Prebend House, a recently restored Georgian house, contains parts of the department of Politics and also Economics. On the other side of Hunter Street, on the so-called 'island', is the Tanlaw Mill, one of the university's social centres—with the main refectory, the Fitness Centre, and the Students' Union Office.

Overlooking this site, on the hill above, is the extensive Chandos Building. This complex contains the main teaching areas for English Literature, English Language, Journalism, Modern Foreign Languages, and the Foundation programmes, and also some of the teaching rooms and one of the lecture theatres for Medicine. It also houses the Ian-Fairburn Lecture Theatre, the largest lecture theatre on the river-side site. Adjacent to the Chandos Building, is the Department of Education. This has both a research arm, and also a teacher training (PGCE) faculty.

Further on, up the hill, on the London Road, is another element of the campus, in particular the School of Law, which is housed in the Franciscan Building, surrounded by other student accommodation blocks. This is opposite the swimming pool and leisure centre. The university has been expanding in recent years. It has acquired a new site on the west side of the river, which will increase the capacity of the river-side campus as a whole. Teaching on some master's degrees takes place in London, in Grosvenor Place, at the home of one its partner institutions: the European School of Economics, and some Life Science programmes are also run in Central London, in conjunction with Medipathways College (see below).

Organisation and governance


Since 2014, the Chancellor of the University is The Hon. Tessa, Lady Keswick. The immediate past- 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.

Lord Tanlaw was appointed to succeed Sir Martin as Chancellor in May 2010. He stepped down in 2013.[17]


Sir Anthony Seldon was appointed as vice-chancellor from 1 September 2015 from Wellington College where he was 13th Master. The outgoing Vice-Chancellor was Terence Kealey, formerly of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at Cambridge University, who had held the post since April 2001. Kealey is known for his research that challenges the idea that education and science are public goods needing public subsidies. He wrote an academic book on the subject in 1996, "The Economic Laws of Scientific Research", which he repackaged and updated for a general audience in 2008 as "Sex, Science and Profits".[18]

In February 2010, Kealey proposed the establishment of a new independent university, modelled on American liberal arts colleges, that would concentrate on undergraduate teaching rather than research.[19][20] The plan is currently being considered by the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), whose 243 members include independent schools such as Eton College, Winchester College and St Paul's School, London. Kealey believes that complaints about impersonal teaching and oversized classes at many traditional universities mean there will be strong demand for higher education with staff-student ratios similar to that provided by independent secondary schools. He stepped down in July 2014.[21]

Academic profile


The university's five schools are: Law; Humanities; Arts and Languages; Business; and Science and Medicine. Each of these is presided over by a Dean.

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 Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

The Department of Education has two aspects, research and vocational: it conducts research into education and school provision, and also maintains various PGCE courses for teacher training. The Department of Education has been home to some of the most prominent educationalists in Britain, including the late Chris Woodhead (former head of Ofsted) and Anthony O'Hear (director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy). Its postgraduate certificate in education – which deals with both the state and the independent sector – is accredited with Qualified Teacher Status which means that it also qualifies graduates to teach in the state sector.

The university was created as a liberal arts college, and still describes itself as such, although in an interview with The Guardian in 2003, then Vice-Chancellor Terence Kealey remarked that it had "become a vocational school for law and business for non-British students, because that's where the market has taken us".[22] Consequently, major humanities subjects such as history and politics are no longer offered as stand-alone degrees, instead being combined with economics as a degree in international studies. Economics, however, is available as a stand-alone degree as is English literature, as a single honours subject, and in combinations with English Language, or Journalism, and related areas. The Professor of Economics, and Dean of Humanities, Martin Ricketts, is the chair of the Institute of Economic Affairs Academic Advisory Council.

Some degree programmes at Buckingham, Law for example, place greater emphasis on exams as an assessment method rather than coursework, but in general its degree programmes balance assessment between exams and coursework.[23]

School of Medicine

The School of Medicine offers postgraduate MD programmes for qualified doctors in a range of specialisations.[24] From January 2015 it offers an undergraduate medical qualification (MBChB)[25] and started accepting its first batch of undergraduates at a cost of £35,000 per year.[26] The university accepts international and EU students. The school is known as the University of Buckingham Medical School and is in partnership with Milton Keynes NHS Trust and Milton Keynes University Hospital.[26]

Alternative medicine

Historically, the University had several associations with the alternative medicine community. The University ran a Diploma course in "integrated medicine" that was later withdrawn under pressure from David Colquhoun,[27] a campaigner against pseudoscience and alternative medicine. The Dean of the School, Karol Sikora, was a Foundation Fellow of Prince Charles's now-defunct alternative medicine lobby group, The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health,[28] and is Chair of the Faculty of Integrated Medicine, which is unaffiliated with any university but also includes Rosy Daniel and Mark Atkinson, who co-ordinated Buckingham's "integrated medicine" course.[27] Daniel has been criticised by David Colquhoun for breaches of the Cancer Act 1939, regarding claims she made for Carctol, a herbal dietary supplement with no utility in treating cancer.[27] Andrew Miles is on the scientific council of the College of Medicine[29] an alternative medicine lobby group linked to the Prince of Wales.[30] Sikora is also a "professional member" of this organisation.[31] The degree was stripped off validation by the university of Buckingham prior to the first graduation.[32]


The university offers traditional degrees over a shorter time-frame. Students at Buckingham study for eight terms over two years, rather than nine terms over three, which (with extra teaching) fits a three-year degree into two years. (The MBChB course lasts 4.5 years).[25] From September 2009, tuition fees for full-time UK and EU undergraduate students have been £8,040 per year for these two-year bachelor's degree programmes. For non-EU students, fees are equivalent to £13,500 p.a. Because Buckingham's degrees take 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. In some subject areas, notably Humanities, the university is now offering its degrees over different time-scales, i.e. both the 2-year 'intensive' model, working the extra summer term per year, and also the traditional 3-year model with the usual summer break each year.

External degrees and validation

The university awards undergraduate and graduate (Masters/MBA) degrees to students who have studied at the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology.

The University validates courses in medicine at Medipathways College, a small private college based in London. Medipathways operates dentistry and medicine courses and in late 2014 was found by the Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency 'to be at serious risks of failure'; the University disagreed with the assessment.[33]


The Humanities Research Institute includes academics working in a range of disciplines, particularly military history, security studies, political history, the history of art, 19th-century literature and social history.[34][35]

Alan Smithers runs the Centre for Education and Employment Research (CEER), from within the School of Humanities.[36][37]

From the English department, John Drew runs Dickens Journals Online, the project which has put the whole of Dickens's journalistic output on free-access on the web.[38]

Anthony Glees is Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies.[39]

Reputation and rankings

(2017, national)
Times/Sunday Times[41]
(2017, national)

The university was awarded the Times/Sunday Times University of the Year for Teaching Quality in 2016 and ranked 38 overall out of all 127 UK Universities. The Guardian University Guide for 2013 ranked Buckingham in 16th position out of 120 UK higher education institutes.[42] The Complete University Guide for 2014 ranked Buckingham in 57th place out of 124 UK higher education institutes.[43] The Times Good University Guide 2013 ranked Buckingham in its league tables in 41st position out of 120 UK higher education institutes. The Sunday Times University Guide for 2013 ranked Buckingham in its league tables in 61st (2012: 56th) position out of 122 UK higher education institutes. It was ranked 17 for graduate employability in 2015.[44] It is not mentioned on top of the NSS 2015.[45] It comes 55th in the 'Complete University Guide 2017'.[46]


The most recent league tables of individual university departments in The Guardian University Guide 2013, produced by The Guardian newspaper, ranked the Business department as 28th (out of 116) in the country, English as 14th (out of 106), Economics as 17th (out of 70), Psychology 20th (out of 109), and Law as 30th (out of 97). It is not represented in any other field.[47]


The university's Royal Charter, unlike those of other universities, provides for three 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 it perceives itself as markedly different from the state-funded universities that the QAA otherwise audits. The university got confidence (the highest band) in its first QAA audit in 2003. The QAA indicated the university has limited confidence since 2007,[48] while subsequently 'meeting UK expectations' for institutional matters in a 2012 review.[49] It has breached its plagiarism rules in 2014.[50]

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[51] and it is now available in print and its whole archive is online.[52]

It also publishes three other journals: The Buckingham Journal of Language and Linguistics,[53] The Journal of Prediction Markets,[54] and The Journal of Gambling Business and Economics.[55] It has a co-publishing arrangement with Policy Exchange[56] for its Foundations series.

Notable people

Alumni include Bader Ben Hirsi, playwright and director; Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth; Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North; Chris de Lapuente, Global President and CEO of Sephora; and Graham Roos, appointed in 2011 as the University's first Creative Artist in Residence.

International alumni include Pravind Jugnauth, MP in the National Assembly of Mauritius, former Deputy Prime Minister, and the leader of one of Mauritius's main parties, the Militant Socialist Movement; Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Governor of Osun State, Nigeria, racing driver Marc Gené, winner of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 2009; and Tun Mohammed Hanif bin Omar, Deputy Chairman of Genting Berhad, and former Inspector-General of the Royal Malaysian Police.


  1. The other four are the non-profit Regent's University London,[4] and three for-profit institutions, the University of Law,[5] BPP University[6] and Arden University.[7]


  1. 1 2 3 4 "History of the University". Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  2. "University of Buckingham Annual Report 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  3. 1 2 3 "2014/15 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile" (XLSX). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  4. Adam's, Richard (25 March 2013). "Regent's College in London to become UK's second private university". The Guardian
  5. Paton, Graeme (22 November 2012). "Britain's first profit-making university opened". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  6. Sellgren, Katherine (8 August 2013). "For-profit college gains full university status". BBC News
  7. Morgan, John (5 August 2015). "For-profit RDI granted university status". Times Higher Education
  8. The University of Buckingham news, 8 April 2013: University mourns death of Lady Thatcher Linked 2015-06-19
  9. Business school to be university college, Financial Times, July 25, 2010
  10. "Register Home Page". Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  11. Tooley, James. ed. Buckingham at 25: Freeing the Universities from State Control, Institute of Economic Affairs, 2001. ISBN 0-255-36512-8.
  12. Times Higher Education, 8 January 2015: Private providers create ‘Russell Group of the alternative sector’ Linked 2015-06-19
  13. "Institutes We Represent | Buckingham University". Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  14. The Times, 27 May 1967, p. 20.
  15. Buckingham at 25, ed. James Tooley (2001), p. 25.
  16. "Chartered bodies | Privy Council". Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  17. "Graduation 2013".
  18. "Sex, Science and Profits".
  19. Sian Griffiths (7 February 2010). "Private schools plan to set up university". London: Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  20. Lucy Hodges (10 February 2010). "The Big Question: Should we encourage independent schools to set up a private university?". London: Independent. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  21. Lessons on paying for higher education, The Guardian, 6 January 2003
  22. "A student's guide to... University of Buckingham". London: Times Online. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  23. Postgraduate Medical School   University of Buckingham, accessed May 2016
  24. 1 2 MB ChB Course   University of Buckingham, accessed May 2016
  25. 1 2 [Student BMJ October 2013, accessed 6 October 2013]
  26. 1 2 3 David Colquhoun (April 1, 2010). "University of Buckingham does the right thing. The Faculty of Integrated Medicine has been fired.". DC's Improbable Science.
  27. "FIH Foundation Fellows". Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  28. David Colquhoun (29 October 2010). "Don't be deceived. The new "College of Medicine" is a fraud and delusion".
  29. Nigel Hawkes (2010). "Prince's foundation metamorphoses into new College of Medicine". 341. British Medical Journal. p. 6126. doi:10.1136/bmj.c6126.
  30. Sikora's profile is on the College of Medicine website.
  32. "Private medical college decries poor diagnosis". Time Higher Education. November 6, 2014.
  33. "Humanities Research Institute". Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  34. "Amesbury Confirmed as the UK's Oldest Settlement". History Today. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  35. Leaders of the pack;Interview;Pamela Robinson;Alan Smithers;People;Briefing, TES, May 11, 2008
  36. Alan Smithers: declaration of independence , Guardian, September 7, 2004
  37. Calling all Dickens detectives, The Guardian, 4 August 2011
  38. Professor reeling after ‘sinister’ attack, Buckingham Advertiser, 14 August 2014
  39. "University League Table 2017". The Complete University Guide. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  40. "The Times and Sunday Times University Good University Guide 2017". Times Newspapers. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  41. "University guide 2013: University league table". The Guardian. London. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  42. "The Complete University Guide". "The Independent". Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  46. "University guide 2013 subjects". The Guardian. London. 22 May 2012.
  48. "Institutional Review - University of Buckingham" (PDF). Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  50. "Home". Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  51. "IngentaConnect Publication: Denning Law Journal". Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  52. The Buckingham Journal of Language and Linguistics
  53. "Home". Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  54. "Home". Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  55. "Policy Exchange". Policy Exchange. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
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