​​Our history

Universities UK’s roots lie in the 19th century when informal meetings took place involving the vice-chancellors of a number of universities and principals of university colleges.

In 1918 the first formal consultative meeting of all 22 vice-chancellors was held.

In 1930, vice-chancellors agreed to formalise the arrangements, concluding that ‘it is desirable in the common interests of the United Kingdom to constitute a Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) for purposes of mutual consultation’.

During the 1970s and 1980s, changes in the organisation of the committee were made. Lord Flowers chaired a review of the role and structure of CVCP, which was completed in 1988 and led to the creation of an elected council.

The next major change took place in 1992 when the committee’s membership increased to over 100 institutions due to legislation enabling polytechnics to become universities. Originally located in 38 Gordon Square, CVCP moved to 29 Tavistock Square in 1969. After moving across the square to its current home in Woburn House in 1997, for the first time the full committee was able to meet in its own premises.

In 1999, as a direct result of devolution in Scotland and Wales, the National Council structure was created. Heads of Higher Education in Wales became the National Council for Wales and the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals became the National Council for Scotland.

Formation of Universities UK

On 1 December 2000, CVCP became Universities UK. The change of name, logo and identity reflected the organisation’s evolution over the years. The National Councils also changed their names, logos and identities at the same time.

COSHEP became Universities Scotland whilst HHEW had already changed its name to Higher Education Wales.

Universities UK today

Today, our membership reflects a vibrant, successful and diverse sector, but our mission on their behalf remains largely unchanged. For over 90 years we have spoken out in support of universities and the higher education sector, seeking to influence and create policy, and to provide an environment in which our member institutions can flourish.

Universities UK remains the essential voice of our universities – supporting their autonomy and celebrating their diversity.

Majority of adult learners would upskill at university if given the chance

21 October 2020
New polling by Savanta ComRes for Universities UK has revealed that 82% of prospective students in England who are either unemployed, at risk of unemployment, or looking to learn new skills would be keen to study individual modules of a university degree.

New guidance can ensure universities protect and develop international partnerships

15 October 2020
Universities are today publishing guidelines to better safeguard themselves against security-related risks that can result from international collaborations.

Universities and admissions leaders encourage students to be ambitious with their 2021 applications

12 October 2020
Students applying for degree courses that start in autumn 2021 should be ambitious with their choices, following no substantial rise in deferrals in 2020, with universities ready to be flexible when considering applications.