Entrenched attitudes

April 7, 2011

I have the privilege of working in a small institution whose staff prioritise the education of students. We receive a very small amount of research funding, yet staff here do research. Our students, many of them "non-traditional" entrants, learn in an environment where research is happening, where the staff who teach them are familiar with its uncertainties and ambiguities.

Some of our graduates have gone on to master's and doctoral study. Some of them, for many different reasons, might never have completed degrees were it not for the existence of small, teaching-led institutions. Our teaching-intensive institutions contribute to the diversity of the UK's research base.

So I find it incredible that Lord Willis of Knaresborough, who lists "inclusive education" first among his political interests on the Parliament website, can seriously suggest that some universities should "withdraw from research" entirely ("Leave it to the select few", 24 March). I am also deeply saddened that the structural separation of research from teaching in this country has become so entrenched that a politician associated with education throughout his parliamentary career is now unable to see any function for research beyond "global competition".

Pauline Couper, Research officer, University College Plymouth St Mark & St John

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