G5's special pleading 1

February 13, 2004

While vice-chancellors understandably seek the best for their institutions, it is difficult to see the rationale behind special financial treatment for undergraduate education at G5 universities ("Super elite in secret bid for cash boost", February 6). An undergraduate course in atomic physics, for example, may be more expensive than one in mathematics, but why should running maths at Imperial College London be any more expensive than at London Metropolitan University?

Given London Met's large number of non-standard entrants, running a maths course is likely to be more costly because of the greater staff time and effort demanded.

If the G5 argues that its lecturers are people of international status and therefore command higher salaries, surely that money should come from research funding rather than from higher student fees? Why don't the G5 leaders use their political influence to fight for better funding for undergraduate teaching in all universities rather than indulge in such special pleading?

Hugh Mason
Portsmouth University

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