Forthright it is not

September 5, 1997

Eric Forth was the last higher education minister of the Thatcher/Major era. He piloted the abortive "twin-track" student loan system through Parliament.

He ignored a report containing a perfectly sensible set of reforms published by Tory Central Office. He completely misjudged the reaction of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals who threatened unilateral action on fees and was forced to appoint Dearing to keep the issue from coming to the attention of the middle classes before the election; and finally he committed the Government to a fire sale of the existing Student Loan Company debt book to fill the hole in his budget. His critique of Dearing (THES, August 22) is a piece of staggering hypocrisy.

Iain Crawford

Centre for Educational Research, LSE

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