The expansion conundrum

February 10, 1995

The article by Huw Richards "V-cs push for further expansion" (THES, January 20) epitomises what is wrong with British higher education. On the one hand you and other newspapers carry regular letters from vice chancellors and others bemoaning the absence of sufficient funds to cope with the number of students they already have. On the other hand they are more than ready to carry on expanding.

What is the explanation to this conundrum? Could it be that vice chancellors, realising that they are most unlikely to receive more funds from the taxpayer to cope with current numbers, think that more students will actually mean more money from the taxpayer? If so, this is hardly likely to be in the interest of the students.

Surely any review of the future of higher education should start by putting the interests of students first by working out how to cope effectively with current numbers. Despite the fear expressed about the consequences of an under-supply of graduates, surely failure to supply existing students with an acceptable quality of education is far more serious.

John Elder

Director of administration and resources

University of Buckingham

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