Andrew Adonis and an elitist attitude towards former polytechnics | Letters

Dr John Cookson and Keith Flett respond to the former Labour education minister’s claims that polytechnics should lose their university status. Plus Dr Richard Allen and Dr Duncan Langford on tackling plagiarism in students’ essays

Lord Adonis (Strip former polytechnics of university status, says ex-minister, 11 October) shows a staggering ignorance of the status and quality of many of those institutions. If we were to choose to cull degree-awarding institutions from metrics based on their actual performance rather than the prejudice and ignorance he shares with so many of his fellow ex-Oxbridge members of the establishment, some of the traditional universities would be in line for the chop. Even the “greatest” universities at the top of the pecking order are not universally excellent and have some departments that would struggle academically in competition with the former polytechnics. Would he suggest Oxford, for example, should be closed because some departments are under-performing? I think not. Do the universities need reform? Yes, but based on evidence not prejudice.
Dr John Cookson

• As a graduate of Teesside Polytechnic in the late 1970s I’m not surprised that Andrew Adonis wants to reintroduce the division between polys for the plebs and universities for the likes of him. I got a decent education at Teesside, not only in my degree subject of history and politics but also in extracurricular activities like public speaking, leaflet-writing and organising demonstrations. I suspect it’s this that particularly concerns him.
Keith Flett

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