Letter: Business of learning

September 7, 2001

The analysis of the performance and effectiveness of universities is an important public issue for all the stakeholders ("Why the smart cash is not clever", THES , August 31), although there are still those who argue that "universities do not have products or customers" without any mention of what they do have (Letters, THES , August 31).

All organisations have stakeholders and are there for a purpose; they have objectives, whether formally defined or not. And all of them use a variety of processes to add value to inputs to maximise their outputs and so achieve these objectives.

It is essential to have a debate on how we define these objectives and how we measure whether the public and students get "value for money".

Research such as that by Jeff Pursglove and Mike Simpson is to be welcomed, but these figures should be related to information on the total income and assets of institutions. Such results might radically alter public attitudes and funding priorities.

Bruce Lloyd
Professor of strategic management
South Bank University

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