Letter: Raise Gats game

March 15, 2002

The tone of debate over education services in the General Agreement on Trade in Services is disappointing.

Many people decry the potential loss of quality that an influx of private providers might create but few mention the potential benefits.

David Packham (Letters, THES , March 1) argues for a public debate in the United Kingdom. Indeed, a public debate should take place across the Commonwealth to ensure that government negotiators are aware of the potential impact of trade in education services.

Of equal importance is the need for Commonwealth university leaders to be aware of the framework for Gats negotiations and the issues raised, so that the debate can be informed and balanced.

Gats is the subject of the next monthly report of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, a joint initiative of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and Universities UK. The paper will be available on http://www.obhe.ac.uk/products on March 15. I urge institutional leaders to enter into meaningful debate with government.

Michael Gibbons
Secretary general
Association of Commonwealth Universities

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