Our actions are loud

December 11, 1998

David Albury ("When actions speak louder than words", THES, November ) is critical of the adversarial tone of a leader comment in my name ("Our support has a price", THES, January 16). This article specifically addressed the issue of funding of higher education and in particular the comprehensive spending review. I stated that Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals' support for the new student scheme was conditional on reinvestment of fee income in higher education, a consistent and well-argued CVCP position since our submission to the Dearing inquiry. The size of the government's majority did not affect this in any way.

Like the Society of Chief Executives of Local Authorities, the CVCP, too, has looked forward and done much that is positive in response to the government's agenda. Indeed, I noted that "we have a government committed to education at all levels, and its agenda and ours overlap in many respects". The CVCP's actions in partnership with government and others on lifelong learning, access, the University for Industry and the regional agenda hardly bear out the claim that the CVCP has weakened HE's position "by a Balkanisation effect".

On the agenda for raising standards in schools, Albury himself points to a range of activities involving HE, from training, research and access initiatives, through to education action zones. Of course, the CVCP is always willing to look afresh at engagement with this agenda. This will be taken forward in various ways including meeting before Christmas with the parliamentary under-secretary of state for school standards.

Martin Harris Chairman CVCP, London

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