High price of terror

January 17, 1997

If the announcement of cuts in Northern Ireland research, student awards and inservice teacher training funds is disgraceful, the view of the secretary of state is stunning. Sir Patrick Mayhew is reported (THES, January 3) as saying that the "peace dividend" has been reversed with the ending of the IRA ceasefire.

The two vice chancellors are to be congratulated on their pressing defence of excellent research at Queen's and Ulster universities - that research itself demands improved funding to reflect its quality and value.

There are two other arguments which appear to have been disregarded by Sir Patrick. First, it is extraordinary that the consequence of terrorism is that the Government cuts research funding for life-enhancing areas like cancer treatment. If it is wrong for Government to reward terror, it cannot be right to allow its disruptive effects to undermine what the community needs.

Second, if the benefits of the "peace dividend" were ever to prove lasting, it was by investing in the higher education of a new generation and in the production of knowledge of international standing. How can cuts to investment in the future serve anyone committed to peace?

David Triesman General secretary, Association of University Teachers

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