Oxbridge umbrage

November 28, 1997

Why should you suppose that when I say that there ought to be more universities properly funded to teach the bright people Oxbridge cannot squeeze in, as well as those who do not apply, I really mean Oxbridge takes all the clever students (THES, Leader, November 21)? And why should you suppose that when I say that it is not the tutorial system but the overall intensity of teaching that makes the difference and costs the money, I really mean that only our students can benefit from tutorials?

Ought you to try one of David Blunkett's summer reading courses? Certainly, I think that students with three As are more educable - in the relevant areas - than students with three Es. So does everyone; otherwise they would not set minimum A-level standards for courses as high as they dare.

I am also curious to know why David Halpern supposed that anyone in Oxbridge is under pressure to avoid suggesting the government privatise us. It is the obvious way out for everyone: it gets the anomalous institutions out of a system that cannot cope with them, it saves public funds, allows people to be charged for benefits they will receive and will encourage UCL, Imperial and LSE to follow. I had hoped these ideas would be fed to the government back in the spring. But I cannot think who has been putting pressure on any of us not to think such thoughts.

Alan Ryan

Warden, New College, Oxford

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