The 'real' battle

January 28, 2005

I agree with Alison Wolf that higher education is not fighting its corner, but how can she conclude that the Russell Group, Mainstream, 1994 and Universities UK "signal salvation" (Opinion, January 21) when they are in essence fighting one another?

As we move towards a general election, we need a proper campaign to make three facts known to the public:

* That to concentrate research funding in a few universities and to give no such funding to the rest shows a catastrophic failure to understand what a university is and should be n That this is because high-quality university teaching is possible only when underpinned by high-quality, properly funded research

* That this should be achieved by doubling funding across the sector - at 0.78 per cent of gross domestic product, UK government spending on higher education is half the EU average (1.8 per cent).

This is the fight for "universitiness" that, so far as I can see, no organisation is waging with any impact. We need a non-party, non-union Campaign for Real Universities to argue these core values. Without it we, have no hope of saving UK higher education. It's simple: where there is university teaching there must be properly funded research. If the Government can't see it, we should make sure that the public can.

Stephen Bax
www.realuniversities.org.uk

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