Convoy on right tack

May 14, 2004

I hope you will forgive a college principal and a former senior tutor if we mark your essay "Oxford's future vision could upset colleges" (May 7), in which you make a number of factual errors.

When you remove "part of" from the proposal to make "graduate studies part of the core business of the university", it alters the meaning completely. You also suggest the university is on a collision course with the colleges. Collisions may make good copy, but what is happening is that the admiral and the college captains are signalling to each other about the speed of their convoy. Boring but true.

On the use of quotations, it is generally a good rule to attach them to the arguments to which they relate. Far from setting up "a conflict with colleges determined to guard their autonomy", the consultation exercise has shown an impressive commitment to effective, collaborative decision-making.

Dame Fiona Caldicott
Principal, Somerville College and
chairman of the Conference of Colleges

Bill Macmillan
Pro vice-chancellor (academic)
Oxford University

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