Retain independence

November 2, 2006

Alison Wolf notes the recommendation (buried in Good Doctors: Safer Patients ) that the undergraduate medical curriculum should be controlled by a body directly appointed by the Government (Opinion, October 21).

That university programmes should, in effect, be set by state appointees, however worthy, is a major breach of British liberal principles. That the Government is also the near-monopoly employer of the graduates compounds the problem, as does the undermining of the medical professions and the precedent that would be set for other areas of education.

To their credit, some medical schools and vice-chancellors have protested, but this is an issue that requires much wider discussion and resistance. I hope we can expect principled and public protest from all universities (including their lay councils), from Universities UK, the learned societies, the University and College Union, the National Union of Students and from politicians of all parties who care for universities and more generally for the health and independence of the public sphere.

John Pickstone
Manchester University

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