LETTER : Undeniable need for research investment

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Harrison's analysis of the crisis in university research is spot on (17 April). For many research projects the crisis will prove terminal unless the government reverses the 50 per cent cut in capital funding that it inflicted on universities in the last budget.

However, Dr Harrison's solution to the problems that he identifies unfortunately reflects the defeatist attitude that has so badly hampered the universities' ability to defend themselves against government vandalism and public indifference. Directing research funding into fewer and fewer universities (inevitably followed by the most talented staff and students) brings to mind deckchairs and the Titanic. Explicitly denying staff in the vast majority of the university system access to public funding for their research is an arbitrary denial of their intellectual creativity and a "trade constraint" in their professional activities. Is past performance really the only way to identify excellence? Where are the new ideas and the new researchers to come from?

The case for increased investment in research is undeniable. Let us say so, not try to sew patches on the policies that have done so much damage to our universities.

Dr Joanna de Groot

President

Association of University

Teachers

London W11

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