Education: Your Views

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LUCY HODGES is one of the best informed higher education journalists. It is a pity, therefore, that the final entry in her A-Z on universities gives credence to to the canard that York University, along with the other greenfield universities of the Sixties, was a "child of Robbins". In fact, all the Sixties' universities in England were in the pipeline well before Robbins reported.

Sussex, which she mentions, was taking in students two years before the report appeared. These universities, in their location, and the educational and social philosophy that underlay them, reflected rather the final flowering of an older English university tradition, of exclusiveness and apartness, that Robbins ended in his proposals for expansion - and in his recommendation that the urban Colleges of Advanced Technology should become universities.

It is also often forgotten that Robbins recommended that similar institutions (they were not yet called polytechnics) should become universities in due course - a proposal that the government did not implement for 30 years, and then in a cackhanded way.

Gareth Williams

Centre for Higher Education Studies

Policy Studies

Institute of Education


DR JOHN Rae's feature ("Sleeping giants must wake up - fast", EDUCATION, 29 October) offers an extraordinarily gloomy view of the future for boarding schools. No mention is made of the plight of today's decimated nuclear families, and the benefits that a boarding culture can offer to those unfortunate children living in unhappy, mobile or divided homes.

Boarding school is, or should be, about much more than just education. It is about learning how to live happily in tomorrow's world.

Are we not tired of the individualist culture he ascribes to post modern boarding schools? I suspect this analysis, but if it is correct, it's depressing. Teamwork was never more relevant than it is today.

Jonathan Chapple


AS A mature student having just started university this autumn, I would like to add weight to the claim that mature students and those without formal qualifications achieve better results. It seems the aforementioned groups are less preoccupied with cellular phones and designer clothes, as the vast majority of my fellow students seem to be.

Gary Yam

Brunel University

THE WRITER of "Third Class Citizens" (Your Views, EDUCATION, 29 October) illustrates how one person's right to choose often limits or pre-empts another's freedom of choice.

What the experience of the writer, and many other parents, has shown is that while the idea of choice is admirable and desirable in theory, the actualities are often less than ideal. Thus, another potentially good idea failed because, as happens in education, populist attitudes were considered enough to make a theory workable (remember grammar schools for all?).

This proves yet again the effect on many people of policies, devised to cater for popular demand, which are rushed through to prop up one political system or another.

Surely we should be provided with real choices, not simply be satisfied with short-term, crowd pleasing decisions, which often please no one in the long run. Or is that too idealistic in this age of instant gratification?

Angela Rustom

Great Totham


Please send your letters to Wendy Berliner, Editor, EDUCATION, `The Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. Include a day time telephone number. Fax letters to EDUCATION on 0171 293 2451;

Your letters may be edited for length and clarity.