Transfer market troubles

August 7, 1998

John Hudson's comparison of the football and so-called "academic transfer market" completely ignores the effect of any transfer market on the "customers" of these activities.

The football transfer market has indeed resulted in a few elite clubs attracting some of the best talent. But to fund this transfer activity, these clubs have increased prices to a level that is simply too expensive for vast numbers of ordinary supporters. It is ludicrous to advocate such a transfer process within a higher education system already blighted by the significant under-representation of students from poorer backgrounds.

Many less well-off students will be unable to pay the additional fees that will inevitably be required by elite universities wishing to fund their transfer activities. Such students will thereby be prevented from accessing the quality of provision that is offered.

Furthermore, transfer markets always have the additional effect of unsettling key players and undermining long-term planning and development. This may seem incidental to the odd big club wishing to pull away from the others, but is of grave concern to those concerned about the well-being of the system.

HEFCE has recognised these concerns and is to be congratulated on its attempts to stamp on the excesses of any academic transfer market induced by the RAE.

David Triesman General secretary, Association of University Teachers

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