Times are difficult at the University of East London ("Cuts loom amid UEL shortfall", THES , March 16), as they are at South Bank and four other universities outside London. All have financial problems caused, in part, by under-recruitment. How interesting then to read about the Wisconsin system, which allows institutions to trade off a degree of their autonomy against networked and flexible pursuit of mission in a mixed economy of provision. This model could help us in London where the "overprovision" of places is driving institutions to engage in wasteful competition with one another in similar markets.
We need two things to bring order to this system. First, injections of government cash to allow universities in trouble breathing space to plan a way out of it. Second, a London HE body to facilitate strategic planning and cooperation.
Principal lecturer in sociology University of East London