People power

October 13, 2000

Your editorial (Opinion, THES, September 29) says that there is "little higher education can do" about its place on the government's priority list. This is tragic defeatism in the face of lobbying that has been polite to say the least.

Yet the sector has a weapon that has been almost unused in 20 years of decreasing resources. Our alumni are articulate voters. They define the "middle England" whose affections the Labour Party so desperately wants.

Most universities and colleges communicate with their alumni on a regular basis. In our next mailings, we should present the increasing crisis of funding to our alumni and ask them to write to their MPs and ask for extra provision. (This is legal within the Charity Commission's guidelines so long as party political views are not taken.) This could be a real election issue if we use our networks.

Adrian P. Beney

Deputy director

Development and alumni relations

University of Durham

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