Offensive characterisation

March 15, 2012

The characterisation by Ruth Deech of the Office for Fair Access' collaborative work with universities, which encourages them to maximise their range of qualified applicants (and therefore entrants), as somehow equivalent to Nazi Germany's anti-Jewish quotas is offensive in the extreme ("Social mobility, yes. Outreach efforts, yes. Quotas, absolutely not", 8 March).

Offa does not impose admissions quotas on universities: it would, rightly, be illegal for us or anyone else to do so. As a condition of charging higher fees, universities set their own targets to improve access according to their own circumstances and aims. This is not only a laudable goal, it is also entirely lawful.

I have never sought to undermine the principle of university autonomy, a principle to which I have been wedded throughout my career. In any event, Offa's commitment to autonomy, like its role as an independent regulator, is enshrined in the 2004 Higher Education Act and has always been respected by ministers of all parties.

Sir Martin Harris, Director of fair access

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show