They're the real thing

March 12, 1999

It was heartening to read that the new universities' achievements in promoting access will be reflected in increased funding ("Elite trumped in access stakes", THES, March 5). It was also good to read of the success of the first cohort of Coca-Cola students, who have studied hard for four and a half years while working full time as merchandisers. They are the first to graduate from a pioneering degree created by a partnership between Coca-Cola and Schweppes Beverages, the National Extension College and the University of Bradford Management Centre.

The Coca-Cola degree is about access to higher education for young people who would not otherwise have been able to go to university. What a pity, then, that the message of the accompanying cartoon was not of these students' achievements but of the rank elitism that underpins so much of conventional higher education. Might we call this institutionalised elitism?

Helen Lentell Head of HE and professional studies, The National Extension College

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