Dearing (1997)

Dearing Report 1997 (complete)

The Dearing Report (1997)
Higher Education in the learning society
Main Report

Ref: NCIHE/97/850
ISBN: 1 85838 254 8

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1997
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Notes on the text


Sir Ron Dearing (1930-2009) joined the civil service at the age of 16 and rose to various senior positions. He went on to become Chairman and Chief Executive of the Post Office and Chancellor of the University of Nottingham.

He chaired a number of committees which produced reports on education:

1994 The National Curriculum and its Assessment
1996 Review of Qualifications for 16-19 year olds
1997 Higher Education in the learning society.

The 1997 report

In May 1996 Secretary of State for Education and Employment Gillian Shephard - together with the Secretaries of State for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and with bipartisan support - appointed a committee

to make recommendations on how the purposes, shape, structure, size and funding of higher education, including support for students, should develop to meet the needs of the United Kingdom over the next 20 years (Dearing 1997:1).
The Committee's report was published in July 1997.

The report online

The Commitee's Main Report was published as a 466-page A4-size paperback, and it is this document which is presented here.

The formatting of the text (bold, italics, centred etc) is a reasonably accurate representation of the printed version, but the pages presented here are not exact facsimiles of the original: the font (Times, Arial etc) and size of print - and therefore the number of words to a line and lines to a page - are determined by the settings you have chosen for your web browser. However, the page breaks are correct. In other words, if something is shown here as being on, say, page 103, you can be sure it appeared on page 103 in the original.

I have corrected twenty or so typing errors: if you spot any more, please let me know - contact details are here.

Blank pages have been omitted.

The Committee also produced (or commissioned) a summary of the Main Report and 14 other associated reports. All these can be found here.

Summary of the report's main recommendations

The Committee made 93 recommendations which can be found printed in bold type throughout the text. They are also collected together as Annex A to the report.

Among the Committee's main recommendations were that:

  • the provision of higher education should be expanded to allow for widening participation, particularly among women, ethnic minorities, and students with disabilities;
  • there should be a focus on students' learning skills;
  • there should be development and increased use of Communications and Information Technology;
  • there should be diversity of provision of higher education;
  • public spending on higher education should increase with the growth in Gross Domestic Product;
  • public funding of institutions should take more account of student choice;
  • the government should review how students repay loans;
  • further reviews of higher education should take place every ten years.

Other reports on higher education

There are now three major reports on higher education on this website:

1963 Robbins Report Higher Education

1997 Dearing Report Higher Education in the learning society

2010 Browne Report Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education

The 1997 Dearing Report and the above notes were prepared for the web by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 3 March 2014.

The Dearing Report 1997 (complete)