LETTER:Of dons and 'Disneyland'

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From Mr Vivien Perutz

Sir: Writing from Oxford, where a mere seven or eight of 35 student applications attain the excellence he requires from those who are to read history under his care, Niall Ferguson derides my own institution, Anglia Polytechnic University, as Disneyland, without regard to the offensiveness and injustice of this thoughtless cliche ("Oxford? Sorry prof, I'm into media studies", 1 January).

In reality, Anglia, as a former local-authority institution, is physically drab and grossly underfunded, but it is alive with hard-working staff and students. The Higher Education Council has not yet assessed all subjects but, so far in my faculty, teaching in music and English has been judged excellent and history highly satisfactory. What makes teaching at Anglia so rewarding is not the selection of the already well-educated, but watching those who had previously underachieved progress beyond all expectation.

Contrary to Mr Ferguson, I do not welcome the national fall in university applicants. It is an index of the appalling financial difficulties some of the most disadvantaged young people know they will face if they embark on study for a degree.

Yours faithfully,

Vivien Perutz

Cambridge

1 January

The writer is senior lecturer in history of art at Anglia Polytechnic University.

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