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Hotson versus Willetts: the Debate

Hotson versus Willetts: the Debate

David Willetts pleads ‘guilty to believing in choice’ (Times Higher, 5th July 2011) in response to Howard Hotson’s powerful account of the Government’s misunderstanding of the true lessons to be learned from private universities in the US.

David Willetts set out his defence of student choice in a letter to the London Review of Books (33: 4, 14th July 2011), with Howard Hotson’s replying in the latest issue (33: 5, 28th July 2011). The letters are reproduced here.


The London Review of Books previously published two articles by Howard Hotson challenging the assumptions about US higher education that seem to have influenced Government policy. He took issue with two kinds of private university that seem to have provided exemplars for Government policy.  The first article (London Review of Books, 33: 10, 19th May 2011) challenged the supposed superiority of US Ivy League universities.   The second (London Review of Books, 33:11, 2nd June 2011), outlined the travails of the US-based Apollo Group, a for-profit provider which is now under investigation for mis-selling its programmes and for other financial irregularities associated with its University of Phoenix, where the six-year completion rate is 9% (one of Mr Willetts’s first acts as Minister for Universities and Higher Education, was to licence BPP College of Professional Studies as a university. BPP is part of the Apollo Group).

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