I'm glad Alan Ryan does not think it is necessarily a bad thing to "invest in universities that have high failure rates", but he presumably didn't mean that has been their defining achievement ("One cheer for Brian Roper", 20 November). He must really be joking, however, when he says "it may be quite expensive as a way of pursuing the widening-participation agenda". Go ahead: trim the budget so we can get a few more poor people through Oxbridge, and while we're at it do the same for schools. What's a local comprehensive when we can have more bursaries to Eton?
David Roberts, Newman University College, Birmingham.