Confirming prejudices

September 26, 1997

ANYONE who read Fergus Millar (THES, September 12) should consider the news item on page four ("Research inquiry sparks row"). The head of a quango handpicked by a former minister has invited the director of training and education at the right-wing Institute of Economic Affairs (closely associated with Thatcher ministers) to undertake an inquiry into "the quality and impact of publicly funded educational research".

Given the nature of his own appointment, it seems ironic that this same quango head recently asserted that unnamed researchers were "simply trying to discover evidence to confirm their prejudices" (THES), and, so far as teaching was concerned, indicated that academics at large were a source of "woolly, simplistic and otherwise corrupt (sic) ideas" (TES).

Is this outlay of public funds likely to produce an impartial inquiry into "the open pursuit of knowledge and the challenging of received wisdom"? If not, isn't it time for academics as a body to protest?

John Dixon Manor Rise, Ilkley, West Yorks

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