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Letter: Unacceptable degrees of sponsorship

Sir: There is a real danger that university appeal officers will see fund-

raising as an end in itself (Letters, 29 March). Because the success of a professional fund-raiser is measured by the annual total of donations, it is tempting to say that a million pounds for something that we don't want is better than no money for something that we do.

But there are overhead costs to accepting academically frivolous donations just because the money is there. What is more, serious donors may be put off endowing subjects that the university really does need and want.

Is there any 'subject' for which our universities will not take handouts, even from a benefactor whose freshly integrated personality and expanded horizons are the living proof of its efficacy? Why not the Brendan Behan Professor of Alcohol? The Nancy Reagan Reader in Astrology? The Conan Doyle Lecturer in Fairies' Studies?

Yours faithfully,



29 March