University of Buckingham

The University of Buckingham is a non-profit private university in Buckingham, England and the oldest of the country's five private universities. It was founded as the University College at Buckingham in 1973, admitting its first students in 1976. It was granted university status by royal charter in 1983. Buckingham offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctoral degrees through five "schools" of study.
Buckingham 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 since the establishment of the University Grants Committee in 1919. When she retired from politics in 1992, Margaret Thatcher became the university's second chancellor, a post she held until 1998. Buckingham's finances for teaching operate entirely on student fees and endowments; it does not receive direct state funding although its students can receive student loans from the Student Loans Company. It has formal charity status as a not-for-profit institution dedicated to the ends of research and education.


Some of the founding academics migrated from the University of Oxford, 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: Three London conferences followed which explored this idea.
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.
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 between 1993 and 1998.
The university's first three Vice-Chancellors were Lord Beloff, 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.
From 2004, students at Buckingham have been eligible for student loans, which led to an increase in UK students at the university.


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: Yeomanry House ; the Anthony de Rothchild building ; 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 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.

Organisation and governance


On 24 February 2020, Mary Archer was installed as Chancellor of the university, replacing Tessa Keswick who held the position from 2014 to 2020.
Former Chancellors include Lord Tanlaw, Martin Jacomb, Margaret Thatcher, and Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone.


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 from April 2001 until he stepped down in July 2014.

Academic profile


The university's schools are: Education; 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, by an academic advisory council, and by membership of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.
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 and Anthony O'Hear. 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". 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.

School of Medicine

The Medical School offers postgraduate MD programmes for qualified doctors in a range of specialisations. From January 2015 it offers an undergraduate medical qualification and graduated its first qualified doctors in June 2019. The course is shorter than other medical schools, taking only 4.5 years to complete due to shorter vacations. The course also has a start month of January. The university accepts international and UK students. The school is known as the University of Buckingham Medical School and is in partnership with Milton Keynes NHS Trust (Milton Keynes University Hospital

"Alternative" medicine

The University ran a Diploma course in "integrated medicine" that was later withdrawn under pressure from David Colquhoun, 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, 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. 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. Andrew Miles is on the scientific council of the College of Medicine an alternative medicine lobby group linked to the Prince of Wales. Sikora is also a "professional member" of this organisation. The degree was stripped off validation by the University of Buckingham prior to the first graduation.

Business School

The University of Buckingham has a Business School which offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications for students. Ranked 6th out of 123 in the UK.
The Dean of the Business school is Dr Debarpita Bardhan-Correia. A range of undergraduate and postgraduate business, entrepreneurship, accounting and finance degrees are offered by the Business School.
There are a number of lecturers including many BLEU certified ones, which are individuals who have completed a MSc with the University since 1999. There are also a number of lecturers who are CIM certified.

Vinson Centre for Economics and Entrepreneurship

On 28 November 2018 the University of Buckingham opened the Vinson Building, a multi-purposed facility for use by Buckingham's students and the local community. The University's Business Enterprise undergraduates and businesses that are members of Buckinghamshire Business First use the Buckingham Enterprise Hub, which is located in the Vinson Building.


The university offers traditional degrees over a shorter than usual time-frame. Students at Buckingham study for eight terms over two years, rather than nine terms over three, which fits a three-year degree into two years. 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, students view its degrees as cost-effective compared to other UK university courses, once the income from an extra year's employment is taken into account. In some subject areas, notably Humanities, the university is now offering its degrees over different time-scales, i.e., the 2-year 'intensive' model, working the extra summer term per year, and the traditional 3-year model with the usual summer break each year.

External degrees and validation

The university awards undergraduate and graduate 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. In late 2014 Medipathways was found by the Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency 'to be at serious risks of failure'; the University disagreed with the assessment.


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.
Alan Smithers runs the Centre for Education and Employment Research, from within the School of Humanities.
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.
Anthony Glees is Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies.

Reputation and rankings

The university was awarded the Times/Sunday Times University of the Year for Teaching Quality 2015–16 in 2015, at which time it ranked 38th in the Times/Sunday Times league table. The university is not listed in the Guardian University Guide. The Complete University Guide has seen a steady decline in Buckingham's ranking, from 20th in 2011 to 107th in the 2020 table. It was ranked 17th for graduate employability in 2015. It was ranked joint second for student satisfaction in the 2018 National Student Survey, however a fall in satisfaction in the 2019 National Student Survey saw it fall out of the top ten.


The league tables of individual subjects in The Guardian University Guide 2020, produced by The Guardian newspaper, ranked Buckingham 10th for Accounting and Finance, 18th for Business Management and Marketing, 6th for Economics, 12th for English and Creative Writing, 28th for Law, and 51st for Psychology. It is noted as teaching Computer Science and Information Systems, History, History of Art, Medicine, and Politics, but not ranked in the subjects.
The subject league tables in the Complete University Guide 2020 ranked Buckingham 79th for Accounting and Finance, 76th for Business & Management, 82nd for Computer Science, 52nd for Economics, 73rd for English, 49th for Law, 73rd for Politics, and 92nd for Psychology.

Quality assurance

Buckingham has been reviewed voluntarily by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education from 2001. The QAA indicated it had "limited confidence" in the university's management of academic standards in 2008, as the external academic advisory council had "come to see itself as part of the Buckingham academic community" and "serious concerns about academic standards been flagged by external examiners". The university was subsequently judged to "meet UK expectations" in its 2012 review. In 2015 the QAA found that Buckingham had failed to follow the university's regulations on academic misconduct with respect to possible plagiarism by students. An "alternative providers" review by the QAA in 2017 found again that Buckingham met UK expectations in all areas.
In June 2017 the university was judged by the Teaching Excellence Framework panel to be "of the highest quality found in the UK" and given a gold award.

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 and it is now available in print and its whole archive is online.
It also publishes three other journals: The Buckingham Journal of Language and Linguistics, The Journal of Prediction Markets, and The Journal of Gambling Business and Economics. It has a co-publishing arrangement with Policy Exchange for its Foundations series.

Notable people

Alumni include Bader Ben Hirsi, playwright and director; Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth and former Chairman of the Conservative Party; Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North; Graham Roos, appointed in 2011 as the University's first Creative Artist in Residence; and the former CEO of Bell Pottinger James Henderson.
International alumni include Anifah Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia from April 2009 to May 2018. ;Mohammadin Ketapi, a government minister in Malaysia; Pravind Jugnauth, MP in the National Assembly of Mauritius, former Deputy Prime Minister, and leader of one of Mauritius's main parties, the Militant Socialist Movement; Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Governor of Osun State, Nigeria; and racing driver Marc Gené, winner of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 2009.