What is a 'University'? What are we Preparing our Students to Progress into?
This article is part of an ongoing project exploring people’s perceptions of what a university is, what it should be and what it might be in the future. The bulk of the essay looks back at the history of universities in England, drawing out a number of ‘tensions’ that have characterised that history. It then conveys the results of a survey exploring the views of attendees at the Foundation Year Network Annual Conference in July 2018 (entitled, ‘Unity and Diversity in the Foundation Year Experience’) about what a university is and should be. These results are then related to the themes that arise from the historical overview which lead to some brief conclusions – primarily that we should celebrate the diversity within the English university system while seeking to identify the things that unite us and foster that unity.