So what are they for? 1

June 7, 2002

I agree with Andrew Oswald that Britain needs independent universities, but not that "real universities are research institutions... and not, repeat not, primarily places of teaching" (Soapbox, THES , May 24). Universities were originally training schools for the professions. Research came to the fore only in the 19th century. The first PhDs were awarded after the first world war.

There is a place for pure research institutions, but universities should rethink their functions and become more professional, with research a handmaiden of the professions and promotion based not on research alone but on excellence in the multi-faceted profession of academia.

John Radford
Emeritus professor of psychology
University of East London

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