Utility and futility 1

June 6, 2003

Geoffrey Alderman asserts that a university's purpose is for academics alone to decide and that its taxpayer funding is for politicians and taxpayers to determine (Letters, THES, May 30). This will not work.

But if taxes are a proxy for policy, taking this view could sever universities from the policies of the society in which they operate. The private sector and philanthropists would move in and reconstruct a skyline of ivory towers.

Conversely, to make universities subservient to the dictates of politicians would move us perilously close to what has happened in our schools, with their state-controlled curricula and Ofsted inspections.

Mike Newby
University of Plymouth

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