Readers' reactions

November 26, 1999

Previously in The THES...John Kingman said academic pay and conditions must improve to preserve the UK science base

My experience is that there is a perceptible decrease in the quality of both PhD students and postdoctoral research assistants. However, this is hardly surprising since the enormous and well-documented gap between university salaries and the private sector is bound to deter some of the best brains from an academic career in which they might conduct fundamental research and inspire the next generation of graduates.

It is not in any government's interest to admit that there is a large pay shortfall - the last thing they want to do is to sanction a large pay increase in any part of the

public sector.

In reality, higher education is only a political priority in terms of numbers of graduates as a percentage of school-leavers. A serious problem is that very few politicians have any insight into scientific research, which necessarily imposes serious limitations on their perception of the subject. William Large, Professor of pharmacology and clinical pharmacology St George's Hospital Medical School, London

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