Whither London Met? (1 of 2)

May 12, 2011

Malcolm Gillies, the vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, neatly encapsulates what is wrong with so much of the student-as-consumer model when it is applied to the function of a university with his statement that there are "limits" to the extent to which students paying higher tuition fees could be expected to "cross-subsidise" courses with low demand ("Vocation, vocation: fears over post-92 cuts to humanities", 21 April).

Students pay fees to a university, but it is uniquely the role of the university, and not the students, to decide, on academic grounds alone, the spread of subjects taught. The nature of a university requires that there be a range of subjects on offer, with varying degrees of student demand for them. Had Harvard University, Stanford University or the London School of Economics followed Gillies' line of thinking, their pre-eminence would have disappeared long ago.

David-Hillel Ruben, Professor of philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London

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