In scholarship we trust

October 13, 2011

Terence Karran's fascinating article on academic freedom ("Unshackled minds help institutions to conquer the greatest heights", 29 September) is nonetheless missing a crucial concept: trust - trust in academics to do their job to the best of their ability, and thus to deliver all the facets of education identified in the passage Karran quotes from the University of Oxford's strategic plan.

The plan even has the temerity, in this consumerist age, to place scholarly activity at the heart of a university's activities. It goes further by assuming that those best placed not only to deliver but also to understand what scholarly activity is are scholars. It is not necessary to try to design management-speak student-centred statements, because students who attend such institutions will benefit simply from being in an environment led by scholars.

Maybe this is the most important lesson - that universities need to learn to trust their academics simply to do their jobs if they wish to conquer the greatest heights.

Rob Ackrill, Division of economics, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University

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