Letter: Oxford doubts on Said college

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The Independent Online
Sir: You report ("Saudi 'Mr Fixit' gives Oxford pounds 20m", 17 July) that pounds 20m is to be given to the University of Oxford to build a new college for management studies. Your report would have been more complete if it had mentioned the misgivings some friends of the university feel about the proposal.

They are as follows: that the building is to go on a "green" site near the centre of the city and university; that the proposed college will be single-discipline; and, most important, that the discipline, management studies, lies too far from the proven subject areas which have given Oxford and Cambridge their world reputation.

In voicing these anxieties I recognise the generosity of the intending donor, Wafic Said. But at a time when the Bodleian Library closes early for lack of staff, when teaching-posts are frozen in core undergraduate subjects like classics (Oxford's faculty was described to me recently by an American classicist as the "best in the world"), and when students end their three-year course usually in debt, it is hard to applaud a "greenfield" creation recommended, apparently, mainly by the readiness of well-wishers outside the university to pay for it, yet a mere fraction of whose cost could supply the vitamins whose lack weakens the university in its existing functions.

ALEXANDER MURRAY

University College

Oxford

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