Flaws in case for pay by region

September 8, 2000

Unless professors of economics get recycled around Britain like a junk bond, it is hard to imagine that they (or any universal man) should have an equally sound grasp of what a pound might buy in Warwick and Guildford and Swansea and Newcastle.

From a North British perspective, it is clear that any definition of what a pound might buy is problematic, not to mention the question of who has the pound in their pocket and whether it is a refugee coupon or a real pound.

It is cheaper to buy a flat in Glasgow than in London, but not always cheaper to rent one, and it is cheaper to buy most kinds of food and consumer items in London.

The main reason why North British graduates in my discipline do not work in the Southeast is because the universities of the golden triangle normally appoint from their own and certainly do not, in my experience, shortlist those from North British departments. Perhaps this complacency owes something to an item ignored by Oswald, the London weighting allowance.

If London is too expensive to conduct university activities, the rational economic policy is not to pour in more money but to invest in universities where housing and accommodation are cheaper and relocate the appropriate library and technical resources to them. This not only provides better value but helps regenerate their economies.

Robert Gibbs Renfrew Street, Glasgow

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