Size important but not the only criterion

June 30, 1995

Your article on Southampton Institute's discussion document The Future of the University Sector (THES, June 23) inaccurately stated that the institute had proposed that all higher education institutions with more than 500 full-time students should automatically become universities.

What was actually put forward was that all institutions educating more than 500 full-time equivalent, degree-level students in seven academic subject areas should automatically be designated universities. This amounts to 3,500 students. The issue of university status was just one of a number of topics discussed in the document which was written to stimulate debate and offer practical proposals for change within the higher education sector, based on the experience of the largest college not titled a university. Southampton Institute staff believe that colleges which educate predominately degree and postgraduate students and meet the size and diversity criteria should receive university status as of right to avoid the misguided perception of students as "second-class citizens".

There should be none of the discrimination that some students are facing because they are educated to degree level but at institutions not called a university.

The majority of the discussion paper was devoted to funding, access, research, standards and flexibility. It is a matter of regret that these were not covered in the article.

David Leyland

Institute director

Southampton Institute

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