Sir Howard Newby, in evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, has rightly drawn attention to the problem of students having studied different topics in their mathematics A level ("First-years need remedial help", THES, February 8). But he is wrong to blame modular A levels as there have always been different A-level maths syllabuses.
At my first university maths lecture in the 1960s many students complained when the lecturer said he assumed a working knowledge of material some had not covered at school. The lecturer said there was nothing he could do.
What is new is not the problem but that it is being recognised. Universities are having to address it as an aspect of quality assurance.
Department of economics