Clear need for more clarity

November 27, 2008

My astonishment at the reviews of higher education commissioned by the Government stems not from their unsurprising content but from their extraordinary prose ("Plea to ministers: don't desert us as credit crunch bites", 13 November).

John Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, should hold a course for their authors. I suggest this be held in a building set in the middle of a large forest. Seminars would consider the prose style of masters of clarity such as George Orwell, Patricia Highsmith and Penelope Fitzgerald. Release would be triggered by high marks in exercises consisting of rewriting pages of these reports in prose that is, in Orwell's phrase, "clear as a windowpane".

Peter Checkland, Emeritus professor of systems, Lancaster University.

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