Allies for the cause

February 16, 1996

Your inaccurate report of my contribution to Association of University Teachers' council (THES, February 2) attributed to me reservations about the AUT working with the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, but these were warnings about difficulties should we find ourselves in conflct with the vice chancellors over issues of pay and redundancies, comments which were in fact made to a colleague, Steve Reicher.

I did not denigrate possible co-operation with vice chancellors. On the contrary, I congratulated our general secretary and president on initiating a campaign involving employers, students and unions. The key role of AUT is reflected in the invitation to us to serve as secretary to the group.

Such alliances have their difficulties, as the recent dispute over the CVCP proposal to charge admission fees to first-time students shows. AUT and NUS have rejected this approach, believing it will do nothing to solve the underlying problem of our universities - chronic underfunding. It is time for a Royal Commission to survey the state of higher education. AUT is ready to contribute fully. Is Gillian Shephard brave enough to let us?

ALAN WATON

Executive member and former president of AUT and dean of social sciences and humanities, University of Bradford

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