Cut the complacency

July 8, 2005

I was shocked by the article "Hefce plays down closures" (July 1) and, in particular, Sir Howard Newby's belief that there is no need for a "great moral panic". I'd like him to tell that to the students who contact the National Union of Students panicking because their course is facing the axe.

If "small pockets of provision" are replaced by one or two national centres of excellence, the widening participation agenda could be in jeopardy. If the sector is serious about encouraging mature and work-based students into learning, local provision in a wide range of subjects is crucial. Students choose to study close to home for a reason: they may have parenting responsibilities, for example.

Hefce would do well to take note of that before trying to wipe out these students' subjects and institutions of choice.

Julian Nicholds
NUS, vice-president education

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