The study provides an empirical analysis of productivity change in publicly-funded UK universities, against a background of government policy specifically designed to enhance the productive efficiency of universities in the provision of teaching and research. The nonparametric analysis employs a cost indirect approach to measuring productivity change, taking explicit account of the quality of research output and decomposing productivity change into technical change and efficiency change. The latter is also decomposed into changes in pure technical efficiency, scale efficiency and output congestion. Changes in size efficiency are also computed. On average, productivity declined by 4% over 1989–92, mainly as a result of regressive technical change. Evidence of biased technological change was found, with the frontier shifting out in favour of the teaching outputs and in relative to the research output.