While I could not agree more with T. C. Simmonds that it is wholly inappropriate for a further education college to confer the title of professor on its staff (THES, November 24), it is important that the facts are interpreted correctly.
Bishop Burton College is indeed one of the leading colleges in the FE sector, but it also has an expanding higher education role and is a full partner college of the University of Humberside. As such, the college has a vital role to play in the rural and environment research and teaching profile of the university as a whole and is becoming a regional centre for research and consultancy in rural affairs with a national and international standing.
An existing senior university professor has been recruited to the new post of director of research. The director has a personal chair, as well as occupying a named chair in his previous post. He therefore retains professorial status for the rest of his life. The University of Humberside is also bestowing the new chair of rural sustainability on the director early in 1996 and the sponsorship to which Simmonds refers is a transfer of resources with the professor from his previous post. This is a university chair in every sense. It is intended to support the 35 per cent of the college's full-time students who are on higher education courses and to ensure high quality of provision.
The role of the director is also to maximise the not inconsiderable academic research potential of the college in the rural disciplines and in direct support of the overall growth of the university. In the light of this, I am sure you will agree that the analysis and flippant comments are unjustified. I can assure you that both I and the so-called "dancing professor" take a dim view of such ill-informed and elitist attitudes.
H. W. Petch Principal, Bishop Burton College
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