ROSEMARY Goring’s article ("We will never forget the children, including my niece and nephew, caught up in Dunblane tragedy", The Herald, March 10) was very measured, and one of the best Opinion pieces I’ve read. The only comment I disagree with is when she writes that Dunblane provided an awakening, resulting in “greater compassion for the suffering of others, often on the other side of the world”. I wish.

I have a connection with four of the great tragedies from the past four decades. I spent two months in Ethiopia in 1984/5, during the great famine; my sister was living in Lockerbie when Pan Am 103 fell from the skies in fiery pieces; our daughter is a survivor from that evil day at Dunblane Primary; and I was on the coast of Japan in March 2011 when the Tohoku earthquake struck – a tsunami warning isn’t something you want to hear when you’re near a beach.

Of those, Dunblane was and is probably the most shocking. This wasn’t collateral damage, as the military used to call it, whereby civilians lose their lives as a result of an operation aimed at winning a war. Dunblane was a carefully planned and targeted atrocity aimed at the most innocent among us.

Ethiopia also made a huge impact on me. The scenes were biblical, and they are scenes that are being repeated in several parts of the world today. Yemen in particular is in crisis and will soon be as bad as Ethiopia was if action isn’t taken. And what has the UK Government done? It’s slashing aid to Yemen and continuing to cosy up to the Saudi regime whose air force it has trained and equipped for decades.

I thank David Pratt for his articles in both your weekday and Sunday editions, in which he describes the barbarities perpetrated around the world, and the extraordinary resilience of those caught up in them. The pain of a parent who loses a child is as great whether that parent is poor and illiterate, or affluent and educated. So it would be fantastic if Ms Goring’s comment came true and if we, as a nation, did show greater compassion for the suffering of others, wherever in the world they may be.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


WE don't know who invented the so-called "Turing" scheme, proposed by Boris Johnson to replace the highly successful Erasmus scheme ("UK replacement for EU’s Erasmus scheme under fire amid cost cutting fear", The Herald, March 10), but they have failed to realise that Erasmus is an exchange scheme for study and experience.

What happens is that part of a learning programme in the student's home university is totally replaced by an equivalent but different programme in the European university visited. The Erasmus rules require that the overall period of study for a student is not lengthened and the results of assessment in the visited university are accepted without question in place of the assessments that would have been made by the home university.

This is a challenging requirement. Learning in the home university before the exchange happens needs to be sufficient to ensure that the visiting student can cope with the learning required in the visited university (and the exams) and of course this applies conversely to EU students studying in UK universities. Likewise, learning in the host university needs to dovetail with completion studies and final assessments in the home university.

The clever part of the Erasmus scheme at the outset was that it was based on a lengthy period of two-way conference and negotiation between academics in participating universities, with the final exchange agreement signed off by the corresponding principals and rectors. A high level of trust had to be built and maintained and this, in my experience, usually consumed a lot of air-miles, but perhaps not as many as there would be in extending such a process to universities all over the world, as the Turing scheme aspires to do.

Nobody seems to have considered how this new scheme will work with European universities, which, until now, have formed the bulk of overseas student exchanges. The UK, and not least Scotland, is a desirable destination for European students but, from the point of view of a participating academic in Sweden or Germany for example, why would I be interested in setting up a second parallel scheme, merely to pander to the perceived "sovereignty" fears of a UK Government that has no idea where it is going with this?

Thomas GF Gray, Lenzie.


AS an old fogey health service worker, albeit almost 30 years ago, I used to look in awe at the visitations by various professors of this and that who appeared god-like from time to time with their pearls of wisdom dispensed to use mere mortals. Today they appear to have multiplied like the very organisms and disciplines they studied,

The only place where I saw as many was when I visited France with a friend and it was explained that being a teacher entitled you to be called professor.

Tom Law, Sandbank, Argyll.


A QUESTION for your readers: Donald Trump or Piers Morgan. Which one would you put in Room 101?

Personally I would make sure the room was big enough and shove the both of them in, lock the door and throw away the key.

Bill Rutherford, Galashiels.