Come to a good end

February 11, 2016

Toxicology, the study of poisons, is now a mature branch of science, but there are other kinds of toxicity. One of these is the idea of a “good university”, and I believe that this is a “toxic idea” for two reasons. The first is that there is an almost irresistible temptation to assume that if there are “good universities”, there must also be “bad universities”, whereas a little thought shows that this inductive step is unjustified. The second objection is linked to what Fred Hirsch called the “social limits to growth”: if institutions are ranked, only 50 per cent of them can be in the top half. I am sorry to report that after 34 years in universities, I have not discovered a mainstream British university that is bad, although they are all different and all have strengths and many student successes. The idea of a good university is toxic. Perhaps we should stop using the epithet.

Rhobert Lewis
Brecon, Wales


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Forrest Post Doctoral Research Fellow

University Of Western Australia

Research Fellow in Statistical Epidemiology

London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (lshtm)

Phone Advisor

Gsm London
See all jobs

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'