This article is a tribute to the life work of Maurice Kogan. Very little of higher education's landscape in the United Kingdom has remained unchanged over the past four decades and this article sets out to analyze the way the perception of the role of universities in society has changed in the intervening period. This it does through three perspectives: continuity and change, continuity in change and continuity in the midst of change. Each yields very different visions of the university. Against this ‘inside’ view, the second part of the article examines current British higher education policy from an ‘outsider’ standpoint and very particularly the current strategies towards the European Higher Education and Research Areas. It concludes by arguing that Britain's higher education policy vis a vis Europe re-states a dilemma which these Islands have had to tackle for the best part of the past 250 Years. This dilemma is whether to lay priority on higher education as a global instrument or to endorse a more limited, less ambitious agenda of ‘European’ integration.