Grimsby at the cutting edge

August 16, 1996

Lord Beloff alleges that a "rash of 'media studies' and gender studies' and the rest, whose only contribution to the economy is keeping young people off the labour market" has devalued higher education. Too much effort is given over, he claims, in finding "a home for study no matter how eccentric".

In the same issue Michael Aris informs us that his Oxford research fellowship is allowing him to research the life of Vanarathna, the last Indian Buddhist to visit Tibet in the early 15th century.

Eccentricity may be in the eye of the beholder and both gender and media studies have produced studies on its further reaches (but so have more traditional areas of study). I applaud Professor Aris's academic endeavour. However, I wonder why attempts to understand the relationships between the sexes, with all their political, sociological and cultural ramifications or to understand how mass media shapes our world is less worthy of taxpayers' money than researching the life of (to the majority) an obscure 15th- century Indian Buddhist; or why the one is deemed reputable scholarship and the others not?

Terry Philpot Silkham Road, Oxted, Surrey

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