The right to criticise

August 14, 1998

Janet Finch's rendition of "Stand by Your Man (and/or Woman)" ("In defence of CVCP", THES, August 7) is unconvincing. She is right to draw attention to the undoubted fact that some CVCP members lack the physical manifestations of virility, but she misses the point that your reference to "a gentleman's club" was apt.

In adopting the government rhetoric of "efficiency gains", the CVCP has presided over an ever-declining unit of resource and increasing staff workload. Its efforts to obtain sufficient money to secure adequate staff salaries (vice-chancellors excepted) have been a miserable failure.

Dr Finch's characterisation of the CVCP as "the representative of the whole university sector" is mistaken. There is an important role for v-cs to play. However, in our polity you are represented not by those who resemble you, nor by those who employ you, but by those for whom you vote.

Many of those who deliver or receive higher education do not feel adequately "represented" by the CVCP.

Criticism of the performance of those in leadership roles does not necessarily constitute undermining of them or of the HE system. The criticisms you voiced were justified and constructive. Keep blowing the whistle. You might just wake somebody up!

P. K. Burgess Vice-president, Association of University Teachers

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