Oxford management school's history lessons

August 30, 1996

In 1990, congregation, the parliament of Oxford University, passed a resolution establishing the school of management studies. This followed widespread discussion in the university stimulated by two extensive reports on management studies, the first of which was chaired by Sir Claus Moser and the second by Donald Hay. The plan involved the establishment of a major business school which required Pounds 40 million to be raised from outside sources.

The university is well on its way to implementing this policy and the 20 university lecturers and professors in management studies already attached to several colleges throughout Oxford will be surprised to learn from Alexander Murray's article (THES, August 2) that they do not "serve truth and the young, demand reasonable salaries and seek cooperation with their colleagues".

Indeed, as a history tutor, Mr Murray will be aware that Thomas Sampson, Simon of Oxford and William Kingsmill among others made dictamen the centrepiece of highly practical instruction in administration and commerce in Oxford in the 13th and 14th centuries with origins dating back to 1220. They offered instruction which focused on the practical skills needed to gain employment in commerce or administration, including accounting and business writing - "thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God" (Ruth 1:16).

A distinctive feature of the school is its intellectual and physical integration in the university which makes it essential to site it in the centre of Oxford. It is unclear why its traditions make Cambridge but not Oxford suited to a centrally located business school or why Oxford should wish to disadvantage itself in this way.

Far from "calling the tune", the generous benefaction by Mr Said assists the university in implementing agreed policy and meeting its financial goals, not diverting funds from other sources. Eight million pounds of the Pounds 20 million which the university requires to match the donation has already been raised and will not, as suggested in the article, be "locked in a trust . . . constitutionally independent of the university".

CLARK BRUNDIN School of management studies University of Oxford

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