Wham, bam, no thanks Uncle Sam

September 22, 2000

I am amazed at the number of American professors whose contributions to The THES display not only a total ignorance of our system, but, much worse, an inability to see the lack of coherence and logic in their own arguments (Soapbox, "Got to go to market", THES, September 15).

If the Ivy League universities have to "buy in" so many of the world's best researchers and professors, is it not an admission that they fail to produce them themselves?

Those individuals and private organisations that donate such large amounts of money in the United States should divert part of that funding and encourage American students (and some of their less arrogant professors) to come and study in the United Kingdom. They would find institutions where, despite low pay, worsening working conditions and government interference, staff are recognised worldwide as being good at helping most students, whatever their background, achieve their potential. Money is not all; know-how is.

These donors could then apply what David Blanchflower preaches: give some of their cash to improve US medical care (ranked 36th a few weeks ago by the World Health Organisation, as opposed to 17th for the UK) and some to social services to help reduce poverty across the land, a gesture many of the 50,000 homeless people on the streets of San Francisco would probably appreciate.

Finally, may I plead with this and any future British government to leave well alone American professors and American experts when looking at filling seats on various UK national committees. Answers to our problems are not to be found on the other side of the Atlantic.

Eve-Marie Aldridge

Senior lecturer, School of Languages and Area Studies

University of Portsmouth

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