Buster and the bunker 1

April 15, 2010

"One step beyond the pale" (Leader, 8 April) overlooks the fact that the relationship between universities, the state and what we now call "business" has always been complex.

Characterising the university as "bullied by business" and "pushed and pulled in all directions" reveals not only a bunker mentality, but also a failure to appreciate the prime purpose of the university - namely, to understand the necessary and delicate balance between state and institution, public and private interest and majority and minority viewpoint that constitutes democratic society in the 21st century.

Universities are neither above the fray nor embattled participants in it. Their job is to keep the long, deliberative argument going beyond the point of contentious partisanship. This may not be an exciting USP, but it is the only one that counts for anyone who holds the interests of the good society above those of a defensive academy.

Jon Nixon, Kendal, Cumbria.

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