Bucket of salt

September 10, 1999

I am sorry to disappoint Tom Schuller, whose chivalrous defence of Lady Blackstone and David Blunkett displays great good nature (Letters, THES, August ). I really do think their vision of higher education is drearily utilitarian and confuses the function of universities with that of secondary modern schools: it is obsessed with inspectability, much too narrowly geared to employability, even in contexts such as the teaching of philosophy where it is at odds with the educational enterprise, and wholly inimical to intellectual freedom.

As to the talk of spiritual development and active citizenship Schuller so admires, like the Dearing report's defence of diversity, it is to be taken only with a bucket of salt.

Alan Ryan

New College, Oxford

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