No to teaching ghetto 2

July 11, 2003

With depressing regularity, government ministers and higher education pundits chant, "We cannot have world-class research in all of our universities." This is dispiriting to many fine scholars, it is demoralising to overseas recruiters and it is not true. The problem seems to be that when some people hear "research" they think "(expensive) science".

We can and, I suspect, do have world-class research in all of our universities, though it is not all being undertaken by teams of scientists who depend on collaboration, considerable capital outlay and significant ongoing funding. On the contrary, much of it is being done by people who need only pen, paper and a good library. What a bargain they are. Whereas some scientists feel quite at a loss when leaving their co-workers and facilities on retirement, those in many other fields have a "research-active" life of 60 or more years. This is just as well, given the vast amounts of material to be mastered.

Indeed, cheerfully funding my research out of my pension, I am sometimes tempted to think that I nearly know enough to contemplate a teaching career.

Alan P. F. Sell
Milton Keynes

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