When diverse becomes perverse 1

April 26, 2002

Institutional diversity is not a chimera. Nor is the "multiversity" the solution to current policy dilemmas. A growing student population with an increasingly varied set of educational needs requires an increasingly varied range of institutions - large and small, multidisciplinary and specialist, research-led and teaching-led, some catering for students with conventional qualifications, others for students without them, some primarily residential, others operating largely in distance mode.

These needs will be less likely to be met in a single, multi-mission institution because of the difficulty of balancing different missions and the tendency for one academic culture, based on the notion of disciplinary research as the highest form of academic activity, to drive out or dominate others.

Maintaining, and even increasing, diversity at institutional level is key to having a balanced higher educationsystem.

Roger Brown
Southampton Institute

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