Rapid Responses

Universities work

[Re: Release our business schools from the dead hand of state regulation, yesterday]

Professor Len Shackleton’s proposed “shake-up” of UK higher education is wrong on a number of fronts. For a start, he fails to recognise the success of our world class universities which, despite years of under-investment, continue to deliver for this nation. UK universities generate £59bn a year for the UK economy and, with just 1 per cent of the global population, the UK produces 7.9 per cent of the world’s research publications and 12 per cent of all citations. Secondly, it is far from a “national scandal” that universities maintain their arts and humanities departments. It is essential. At a time when students are being asked to pay record sums to study at university, it is crucial that institutions offer a broad range of courses – not just those that will turn the biggest profit. The UK has a thriving cultural economy that relies upon a steady supply of arts and humanities graduates. Thirdly, Shackelton is wrong to single out education companies like BPP as a model for future success. For-profit business schools and universities have been a disaster for students and taxpayers in the US. According to the US Education Trust, only one in five students at for-profit colleges complete a four-year course and 20 per cent of those who finish will default on their loans within three years. That is not the kind of “shake-up” I want to see in Britain.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU)



Since BAA is selling Stansted, I hope this means that Virgin will branch out into airport management.

Three years after the maths told us euro exits were inevitable, is the EU finally coming to the same conclusion?

I wonder if there is any evidence that playing fields help sporting excellence more than the new facilities their sale funds?

Alistair Darling says George Osborne has “given up on growth.” He should know – the economy was growing when he handed over.