The responses to Steven Schwartz's article on the management of UK universities (Letters, THES March 14) were sadly predictable. They were also misguided in failing to recognise that universities are big businesses that have, in many cases, been badly managed.
In some sectors of academia we still seem to retain stereotypes of business management that derive from a Dickensian image of the downtrodden oppressed by evil management determined to maximise profit at the expense of human and academic values.
In reality, education at all levels requires the kinds of efficiency signalled by Schwartz if it is to serve the interests of our students and if it is to become truly competitive internationally.
The academic world needs to become focused and dynamic. We will never achieve that condition unless we combine freedom with responsibility.
Universities are not "owned" by the academics within them. They exist to serve the national interest and the interests, therefore, of their students. To achieve a level of responsibility it is clear that we need to identify who is in charge of what. In that respect, universities need to grow up and become part of the real world. In no other environment is it acceptable to use debate as a means of endless prevarication.
Foundation for International Education