LETTERS: No plans to quit the LSE

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From Mr J. M. Ashworth Sir: I do not "plan to quit"as director of the LSE as stated in your report yesterday (5 January). I plan to continue to the end of my contract. Meanwhile, it will be for the LSE, quite properly, to decide who should be its next director. The post may or may not be offered to me as my colleagues and the governors see fit.

You imply in another report (" `Viking' who fills the order book", 5 January) that the reason for my recommending to the LSE's academic board in June 1993 that we should introduce top-up fees was because the LSE was not able to take advantage of the government funding then attached to large-scale expansion.

This was (and is) not the case. The LSE is, and wishes to remain, one of the world's leading research universities. This is expensive. To retain our international competitiveness, we need, for example, to maintain an appropriate staff-student ratio and those staff need to be paid proper salaries.

We cannot be sure of continuing to be able to do either of those things at the present level of government funding. The top-up fee issue at the LSE was, as described in the title of the paper I took to the academic board, about "protecting quality education at the school", not about expansion.

Yours faithfully, J. M. Ashworth, Director London School of Economics and Political Science London, WC2

6 January