They doth protest too much

May 5, 2011

Neil Badmington's and Lisanne Gibson's responses to my correspondence of 7 April (Letters, 14 and 28 April respectively), in which I highlighted the need for regular face-to-face academic guidance and support for students, are revealing.

In my letter, I started from the assumption that students are not independent learners on entry to university, but that they require the continuing support of their tutors in becoming so.

That - with all due respect to Badmington - is not a matter of treating students like "infants in nurseries", but treating them as learners (which is precisely what they are).

As to Gibson's assertion that my view "is years out of date", I can only say that I think the opposite is the case: universities are going to have to rediscover the central importance of pedagogy and redefine their core businesses with reference to the quality of the student experience.

If she really believes that such expectations - or, in her words, "out-of-date misperceptions" - are the reason why the government is pursuing such regressive and damaging policies in relation to higher education, then I respectfully suggest that she take a little time out from the onerous responsibilities that she lists and read some elementary political analysis.

Jon Nixon, Cumbria

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