Livingstone warns against diverting research funds

May 9, 2003

Academics, medics, MPs and London's mayor attack the white paper's vision

Further research concentration will undermine most of the capital's universities and fail to meet employers' demands for a highly qualified workforce, London mayor Ken Livingstone warns in his response to the white paper.

Mr Livingstone says: "The distinctive success of London's modern universities lies in the combination of teaching and research and their success in responding to the new requirements of London's labour market, whose increasingly design-led functions need not merely vocational specialisation but also the capacity for independent judgement and creativity. I am unconvinced that the government's two-tier approach will meet London's needs."

Mr Livingstone sees the capital's universities as falling into four sectors: Imperial College London, King's College London, the London School of Economics and University College London; specialist and professional institutions; other pre-1966 institutions; and the modern universities.

Some 58 per cent of London students are at the modern universities, defined by Mr Livingstone as post-1992 institutions, and Brunel and City universities. He believes that diverting research funding from this sector will undermine it when it is struggling to meet student recruitment targets.

If modern universities were imperilled, the gap in provision would hit the least well off. It would also cause an imbalance between employers' demands for a highly qualified workforce and the supply of graduates.

Mr Livingstone says high-quality education requires access to research because it is one of the principal incentives for lecturers. If research were confined to the top four, other institutions would be unable to retain good staff.

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