This paper explores the perceptions of a small sample of academic staff from a university in Spain and another in the UK, to changes in fine art higher education (HE) in both countries over the last 25 years. The authors sought to understand if, and how, the changing HE context had influenced the provision of fine art in each university, and considered it useful to address whether there was any comparability across the two institutions in terms of the responses to the broad changes in resourcing and quality assurance. They used a series of semi-structured interviews with eight respondents, four in each country, aimed at eliciting staff views. These perceptions were considered alongside available data on student numbers, enrolments, graduation and gender, in order to explore the reactions of teaching staff to shifts in context over the period. The study concludes that the stance of criticality adopted by many fine art academics, who value their academic freedom and autonomy and prioritize the practice of their discipline, is being challenged by many of the recent changes in HE. As a result, staff who are being asked to undertake a wider range of activities, are having to adapt their view of the nature of fine art HE.