Gradgrind College? 1

April 26, 2002

As usual, Luton University's managers blame everyone but themselves for their institution's problems ("Luton - a cut both ways" THES , April 19). In fact, they were responsible for the failure to collect student fees during the late 1990s, which culminated in student debt of £11 million in November 2000, about 22 per cent of turnover (Board of governors minutes UL634.1, November 23 2000).

There were also a £1 million "shortfall" in research contracts during 2000-01 (Luton University draft strategic plan 2001-05) and financial difficulties within the faculty of healthcare and social sciences last year ( THES , July 13 2001).

The management's boast that Luton is somehow exceptionally good at providing "education that works" needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. For, as the university's own figures show, 95 per cent of Luton students already have a job while they are completing their studies. It's great that the other 5 per cent find work after graduation, but hardly the stunning achievement that the management claims.

An inquiry about quite what is going on at the university is long overdue.

Nick Tiratsoo
Former professor of history
University of Luton

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