Scholarship stifled by admin

April 23, 1999

David Cannadine is right to point to the "debilitating combination of inadequate resources and excessive bureaucracy" in higher education as "lethal" to the making and sustaining of a creative academic culture. He is right, too, to suggest that by going further down the bureaucratic path our ability to compete with North American universities "dwindles and diminishes".

But it is important to emphasise that in the United States system the major state-funded universities, as well as the big private institutions Cannadine cites, encourage and support teaching and research by seeing that scholars are allowed to focus on them. The dynamism of US higher education is the result of a widespread and systemic encouragement of scholarship that ensures excellence will not be nurtured or concentrated at a few elite universities only.

If a small country such as Britain is to make the best use of its intellectual talent, it must follow suit.

Cora Kaplan

Professor of English

University of Southampton

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