Oxford: A Winner -- Or An Also Ran?

Your lengthy examination of Oxford University ("Shaking Up Oxford," European Edition Cover Story and European Business, Asian Edition, Dec. 5) gets on to shaky ground in places. Certainly the description of Oxford as being in "genteel decline" is belied by the facts.

No visitor to Oxford can be unaware of the scale of the university's continuing expansion. New facilities will help to support a rapidly growing externally funded research portfolio (which currently contains more than 2,500 active projects) and a staff and student population from more than 100 different nations.

One major project concerns the re-housing of Oxford's unique library and book resources. Your claim that "opposition is brewing" to this project is simply not the case. Congregation, the university's parliament, recently approved major proposals to build a new book depository, and plans are now being finalized for the $46.9 million state-of-the-art facility

David Holmes


University Offices

Oxford, England

This article fails to recognize one of the crucial reasons that American universities have done so well: their openness to foreign scholars. At Harvard University, the unwritten rule underlying tenure is that if there is anyone anywhere in the world who is better than the person under consideration (and willing to move to Harvard), tenure should be denied.

Openness is behind the success of universities in California and elsewhere in the international rankings. Not till British universities make a fundamental shift in the way they recruit overseas faculty will they reach the U.S. level.

Furthermore, your table of endowments is misleading. Both the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University have endowments smaller than Oxford's, yet these two institutions are better respected than Oxford in sciences and technology.

Dhiraj K. Pradhan

University of Bristol

Bristol, England

In Matt Kovac's "Why Taiwan's voters are fed up with Chen" (Global Outlook, Dec. 5), there are two points that need to be clarified:

First, Taiwan's China-bound investment policy that has been in effect since November, 2001, has been "proactive liberalization with effective management." The point is to coordinate relaxation measures with systematic assessments to enhance the security of Taiwan's overall economy.

Second, in a recent Mainland Affairs Council survey, more than 85% of respondents said the first priority of exchanges between any Taiwanese political party and China is that the exchanges be in Taiwan's overall interests.

Both Taiwan and China share the responsibility for improving ties between their two countries. China insists on unifying Taiwan under the "one country, two systems" formula, and it kept World Health Organization experts from visiting Taiwan during the SARS period. The ruling party in Taiwan must protect the interests of 23 million people.

Larry Hsieh

Deputy Director

Kwang Hwa Information & Culture Center

Hong Kong

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