The Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education chaired by Sir Ron Dearing was published in July 1997. It represents the first officially sponsored systematic examination of the United Kingdom's system of higher education since the Robbins Report over 25 years ago. This book is an authoritative evaluation of the cogency, relevance and prospects for success of the Dearing vision and recommendations. Like the members of the comittee, the authors have sought to take a holistic view; to consider the underlying implications of genuine lifelong learning for the university system, and how institutions and the system will need to adjust. The outcomes are threefold: a description of what a UK higher education system that is genuinely part of a national learning society might look like, as well as the impetus this provides for radical reform; identification of features of its historical (especially recent) development, as well as wider social forces, which might inhibit or encourage its performance in this way; and an assessment of the coherence, desirability and practicality of the Dearing proposals in bringing about this end.