Oxford and Cambridge have been told to modernise how they are run
Oxford and Cambridge Universities have been told to reform how they are managed and to become more "business-like".
A review of university and business links, launched by the Treasury, has singled out the two prestigious universities for criticism, saying that "there is a general sense of unease" about how they are run.
And it says that unless these ancient institutions modernise their internal organisation they risk losing their "world class" status.
The report, carried out by Richard Lambert, who sits on the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, says that the two universities play a "vital role in the United Kingdom economy".
But the review suggests that the two universities are failing to live up to their responsibilities to the wider economy, saying that Cambridge could have achieved more dynamic business partnerships "if it had been better organised".
Cambridge, although commended for its "intellectual leadership", is criticised for being "closed and inward looking" in how it is run.
"The challenge for Oxford and Cambridge, and perhaps more particularly for Cambridge, is this: how far can they modernise the way they run themselves without threatening the culture that has contributed to their success," says the review.
In response, Oxford University says that it is "disappointed" that the report "does not clarify exactly what he means by the 'challenges' facing Oxford and Cambridge".
And it noted that the report had accepted that Oxford had "made significant progress towards reforming its organisation in recent years".
"One of the few criticisms levelled directly at Oxford is that it faces critical and unresolved questions about its future strategy," says the university, and in reply it says that for the past 18 months it has been carrying such an analysis of its future direction.
"Such a strategy is still evolving in the wake of the proposals contained in the government's White Paper, and much will depend upon discussions in parliament this autumn," says the university.