Small-minded island

July 26, 2012

As one who finds English cultural hubris a source of constant amusement, I savoured two splendid examples of the trait in Times Higher Education recently.

One was big-game hunter Malcolm Gillies' bullet between the eyes of the elephant in the room when he attributed a fall in European Union applications to UK universities exclusively to the euro crisis ("Take note of continental cousins' absence", 19 July). In doing so, he conveniently overlooked the disincentive of our "complicated" tuition fee arrangements. Anyway, EU students don't choose the UK for the quality of our educational experience (much as our universities would like to believe it), but for the dubious CV boost of hegemonic language acquisition.

The other ("The English are coming", 19 July) was the reported discomfort of British applicants to fee-free German universities when faced with the prospect that they might have to study...wait for it...in German!

Whether the little Britons' linguistic unease is a symptom of supreme arrogance, supreme ignorance or both, the fact remains that it is sufficiently widespread to demonstrate an alarming and depressing collusion between individual and national intercultural myopia.

Glyn Hambrook, Wolverhampton

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