McBoo-hoo to you

December 21, 2007

I have to admit some amusement at the complaints of Scottish universities about inadequate funding and the risk of slipping behind England ("Scotland urged to debate fees", December 7).

This mood of complaint was not what characterised Scottish educators and students when the Scottish Executive decided to use their Barnett formula subsidies to do without the capped variable fees introduced in England, or when, motivated purely by naked Celtic anti-English racism, their educational establishment sought (but eventually failed) to find a legal way to extend their lower fees to their fellow Celts in Wales and Northern Ireland, but not to English students. No: then the mood was smugness shading into triumphalism, tinged with vindictiveness.

But the Scots were warned that going down this road could lead to a decline in funding, threatening the research base of their universities, with knock-on effects for recruitment and retention of high-quality staff leading to higher class sizes and all other features of a distinctly second-rate system. They chose to ignore those warnings in favour of crude populism. Now they are whingeing. McBoo-hoo! Well, let them whinge: they have only themselves to blame that their system is being Scotched.

Richard Austen-Baker, Coventry.

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