LETTER : Undeniable need for research investment

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Harrison's proposals to reverse the decline in Britain's research quality by increasing the concentration of funds in a relatively few universities is nothing more than a ringing endorsement of the Matthew principle: "Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath."

He points out himself that research resources are already very unevenly distributed in Britain. In fact, for years they have been more concentrated on a smaller proportion of universities than in the US or Germany, our more successful research competitors. The inevitable conclusion has to be drawn that his remedy has already been applied, tested, and found wanting.

Rather than adopting the defeatist position that the only thing to do is to fight amongst themselves, British universities should be out there persuading the public that investment in research pays - not only in national prestige from Nobel prizes - but in a better quality of life and a stronger economy.

Professor Hugh Pennington

Department of Medical


University of Aberdeen