From Giles Pickford
Reading the ongoing debate about big research versus small universities, I sometimes wonder whether the truth is that Gavin Moodie and Simon Marginson are both right, while appearing to be in furious disagreement.

If something is right for the University of Melbourne and something else is right for Griffith University, then is it possible that both are right? They are certainly not both wrong.

"The wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Kathmandu and the crimes of Clapham chaste in Martaban" (Kipling)

The Bradley report may have disappointed big research but my view is that it will be better for the university system than what we had before.

The art of the possible has to come into it somewhere. I have worked in a number of universities in small towns (Armidale, Townsville and Wollongong) and I can tell you that they have immense political clout.

Their local media are strong supporters and their mayors and local members are warriors for their universities. It would be easier to pull a tooth out of a polar bear than close down a good regional university.

Big research has a very good case for support. But it must not put the case in such a way that smaller institutions are threatened. It is possible to do this and the people who are doing it are clever enough to work out how.

Giles Pickford,
Retired university administrator,
Wollongong, Australia

*Read Simon Marginson's response to Gavin Moodie's article at the end of that story