Clear title track

October 29, 1999

Your front-page article ("Unfair rules mar colleges' title goals", THES, October 22) reports claims that the Department for Education and Employment's policy on use of "university college" titles is confusing and unfair to higher education colleges.

It is neither. The legislation we introduced last year regulates the use of "university college" titles by higher and further education colleges alike. It remains our policy that such titles should not be used on a permanent basis by colleges in either sector unless they have taught degree-awarding powers or are an integral part of a university.

In just two cases - one of which happened to be in the further education sector and the other in higher education - we have recognised arguments for a temporary exception.

As to the use of the term "university college" or similar phrases in promotional literature, we expect all institutions to be honest and accurate in describing their activities. So, I am sure, do students, who would have a very legitimate complaint if they are misled.

As indicated in your article, my department can and will take up with the institutions concerned any evidence of abuses.

Malcolm Wicks

Under-secretary of state

Department for Education and Employment

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