Education Letter: One rule for Oxbridge..

Your Views

I AM a second-year student at the University of Warwick and was dismayed to read about the Higher Education Funding Council's decision to award the university pounds 45m for the next academic year. This represents a reduction of funding in real terms, despite excellent research and teaching ratings.

Amongst the reasons cited for this cut were its generation of funds in the private sector - in other words, this constitutes punishment for innovation. Concurrent with this, Oxford and Cambridge have each received in the region of pounds 130 million, despite substantial territorial acquisitions guaranteeing them significant private-sector income.

The level of Oxbridge's funding was justified by their private tutorial system, but surely this confuses cause and effect. Each of my tutorial groups contains between 12 and 20 people, compared to a maximum of two or three at Oxbridge. My department justifies this in terms of budget cuts so, were our funding allocation higher, present and future generations of students would reap the benefits of a personal tutorial system.

It is time that the reasons for different funding allocations became not just more transparent but were questioned more widely in order to ensure that people perceive higher education to be meritocratic and in order to encourage excellence and innovation by all universities.

JAMES W SMITH

University of Warwick

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