How do I find and cite an Act of the UK Parliament?


ParliamentThis morning I received an email from a former colleague who now works in the UK saying: ‘I wonder if I might trouble you for a reference. What the hell is the correct reference for the Further and Higher Education Act of 1992? Can’t find it anywhere. Any help gratefully received.’

Easy I thought. Must have been cited a million times. Then I tried to find one.

The Act, is a foundational reference for the current state of Higher Education in England and Wales which transformed the former polytechnics into universities and at one swoop did away with the binary divide – except with regards to actual research funding, but that’s a story for another day!. Lots of people make reference to it in their writing, but no one I could find (in what was, admittedly, a fairly cursory search) had included it in their list of references.

Perhaps they had faced the same question as my friend but, instead of seeking an answer, had just let it go on the basis that it was common knowledge and everyone interested had heard of it and knew what it said.

Even searching for and finding the Act in the http://www.legislation.gov.uk website didn’t really help much (although it did give me the formal legislation chapter number (13) and also reminded me that there was a separate Act for Scottish Higher Education (Scotland has a separate education system guaranteed by the 1707 Act of Union).

Realising that finding an existing citation style I could draw on was going to take too long, I did a quick search on ‘how to cite a UK act of parliament’ and came across a useful resource from the University of Bedfordshire http://lrweb.beds.ac.uk/guides/a-guide-to-referencing/cite-govt-report but decided that the suggested format included too much before it got to the date to make ‘in-text’ citation easy on the reader’s eye,

Great Britain. Further and Higher Education Act 1992: Elizabeth II. Chapter 13. (1992) [Online]. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/13/contents (Accessed 2.6.14)

and decided that this would be better.

Great Britain. (1992). Further and Higher Education Act 1992: Elizabeth II. Chapter 13. (1992) [Online]. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/13/contents (Accessed 2.6.14

As I said to my colleague in my reply to him, ‘No wonder the poor bloody students are so confused!!’

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