LETTERS: Welcome diversity

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The Independent Online
From Mr Andrew Reid Sir: The picture you paint of life in our universities ("Universities or battery farms?", 5 January) is far gloomier than the reality. The remarkable expansion of higher education in the last 10 years has created a dynamic and heterogenous university system.

There are now more than 130 colleges of higher education in the UK, offering a greater variety of courses than ever before: the emphasis on vocational as well as more traditional academic teaching in new and old universities is indicative of a balanced approach. Our higher education system is providing graduates with a range of skills and from a variety of backgrounds, which our growing economy demands.

Students, in my experience, far from complaining about the increased diversity in our universities that has flowed from expansion, actually welcome it. It enhances the complete "university experience" which brings students from every walk of life and from every corner of the world together in one environment. This is a pattern that should be welcomed and not simply dismissed by educationalists and detached union officials.

Yours sincerely, ANDREW REID National Chairman Conservative Students London, SW1

6 January