Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Research Student: Dr Andrew Gunn

The Relationship between Universities and the State in England: An Analysis of Academic Research Policy 1964-2014

My doctoral research was funded by a competitive University of Leeds research degree full scholarship. This was complemented by a competitive Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) grant, which funded a period as a Visiting Researcher at the Department of Political Studies, University of Auckland, New Zealand. As part of my research, I also visited the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) headquarters, Paris.

My doctoral thesis is a study of the relationship between universities and the state through an analysis of higher education policy in England. It focuses on the 'research mission' of the university and its relationship with external 'third mission' activities, such as, Research Impact and Knowledge Transfer.  The research comprised of interviews with policy makers across Westminster and Whitehall, including: politicians, civil servants, professionals, lobbyists and experts. This was accompanied by extensive documentary analysis, involving visits to the National Archives at Kew. A chronology of policy was developed, charting the evolution of both academic research and industrial-innovation policy, over a 50 year period from 1964. This explains the changing political agendas and evolving policy context that has shaped academic knowledge production. Furthermore, the study identifies how the academic research agenda is a reflection of the enduring relationship between resource dependent universities and a state seeking to serve national economic competitiveness in the global knowledge economy.

During my studies, I presented my work at the Society for Research into Higher Education annual conference, Celtic Manor, Wales; the Australian Political Studies Association annual conference, University of Sydney; and the New Zealand Political Studies Association annual conference, Victoria University of Wellington.

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