‘A small town of character’: locating a new Scottish university, 1963-1965

2017-11-02T13:48:24Z (GMT) by Michael Heffernan Heike Jons
The 1960s are generally regarded as a decisive decade for the postwar expansion of British universities, the process widely associated with the publication of the Robbins Report on Higher Education in October 1963. This period saw significant increases in the number of full-time university students and in the level of public expenditure devoted to higher education. This chapter analyses the debates triggered by the Robbins committee’s recommendation to establish a new university in Scotland, eventually located in the county town of Stirling. Based on previously unexamined documents in the UK National Archives, we argue that the decision to create the new university in Stirling rather than the alternative locations of Ayr, Cumbernauld, Dumfries, Falkirk, Inverness, and Perth arose from the interplay of three somewhat contradictory pressures: the preference of the Robbins committee for new universities in or near to large cities; the prejudices of the academics charged with making this decision for environments that reproduced the perceived creative advantages of the ancient universities where they were educated or employed, specifically Oxford; and the highly successful lobbying campaign in support of Stirling.