I am one of the many western environmental "experts" who has "jetted in" to Romania and Hungary in recent years. I share the concerns of colleagues in central and eastern Europe and the United Kingdom (THES, January 26). However the consultancy roundabout can lead to mutually beneficial relationships between the east and west.
Both my own department (in a former institution of higher education) and the University of Bucharest have benefitted immensely from working closely together through many exchanges and visits and meetings.
This is neither patronising nor exploitative; the relationship is based on shared respect, mutual benefit and reciprocity, British academics and students gain from the long and high academic traditions of Bucharest university and high schools, while our Romanian colleagues gain from the different perspectives, pedagogy and availability of IT which we have to offer. However the fact remains that without substantial western financial support these initiatives would at best be one-way or at worst impossible.
Bill Chambers Head of department of environmental and biological studies, Liverpool Hope University College