State actor still best for accountability role (1 of 2)

November 1, 2012

Geoffrey Alderman appears to argue that the state has no right to seek to regulate in any way universities that receive public funding for student education or research (Letters, 25 October).

I agree with him that the central role of the university is to pursue and disseminate truth. But the state surely has the right - and indeed the duty, given the sums involved - to try to see that the money is properly spent (how that is done, and how far it relies on the judgement and integrity of the academic community in the process, is another matter).

Beyond that, any society has to ensure that its university system delivers a broad range and balance of both private and public goods. Unfortunately, there is no entity other than the state that can do this (although whether that should be the executive rather than the legislature is arguable). In fact, the lack of accountability to any state authority on the part of Ivy League and other major private institutions is a root cause of the present malaise in US higher education, as I and Howard Hotson, professor of early modern intellectual history at the University of Oxford, have written.

Roger Brown, Professor of higher education policy, Liverpool Hope University

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

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

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