ROSEMARY Goring, in a provocative piece, wonders if the age of universities is over ("Is the great age of universities and all they represent over?", The Herald, September 15). Their demise began under Tony Blair, when the age of mass higher education was ushered in, and they failed to mimic the American system, and continued in the same-old-same-old way of giving very specialised degrees.

At 18 most young people have no idea of what they want to do with their lives. They have no idea even of what is on offer. In fact, in our fast-changing world what is on offer today will be old hat when tomorrow they graduate. The American system has it right. Most young people want and deserve a good general liberal education as a preparation for life. They have all the time in the world to specialise later. Also, students should be able to move freely from one university to another, taking their credits with them.

The universities showed just how glacial and medieval their modus operandi is when they tried to reinvent the wheel of distance learning. The Open University pioneered and honed distance learning more than half a century ago. The fact is, UK universities excel at analysis paralysis. Nothing changes until it becomes impossible for it to remain the same.

Doug Clark, Currie.


THIRTEEN years ago my husband died as an angiogram procedure provoked heart failure. It was an accident. After several years of Jim suffering with an inherited mitral valve problem causing prolapse and, periodically, some very distressing symptoms, I was used to the emergencies happening in the wee small hours. On one very distressing occasion I phoned NHS24, as I wasn't able to help Jim, and was advised that as "the ambulance" was off the island (Skye) I would need to take him to Broadford Hospital myself.

It was 3am, raining hard and dark. I left my nightdress on under my mac, pulled on the wellies and dragged the poor chap out to the car. His breathing was very laboured. The whole of the 50 miles from our home down to Broadford I yelled at him to keep breathing – a lot of swearing took place. After a nightmare journey we got there and Jim was attended to by the staff at that wonderful Broadford hospital. I was looked after too.

I was so sorry to hear about the poor suffering gentleman who lay on the floor for 40 hours, before dying, as he waited for an ambulance (" Family’s grief as father-of-three dies in 40-hour ambulance wait", The Herald, September 16). I know the feelings of helplessness and panic; they happened on several occasions for Jim and me.

One of my journeys, acting as his ambulance, was from Skye to Inverness when he suffered a severe reaction from medication which was causing his feet to turn black and it was imperative that he was taken to hospital immediately. There was no ambulance available, and it was Boxing Day.

Over to Inverness this time, again in nightdress, mac and wellies (it was very early in the morning) as Jim was more important than my fashion statement. All was well, eventually, after the three-hour drive to Inverness, and luckily there was no snow. Just rain.

Our ambulance service, a few years ago, was staffed by excellent, hardworking people who cared for the islanders but it was obviously under-resourced even then. It appears to still be the case everywhere, so I would ask the Scottish Government to act swiftly to make life easier for the ambulance crews who care for us when needed most, making our lives safer.

I still have the same mac and wellies. My Jim is long gone but I keep them as mementoes of those hair-raising exploits through the foothills of the Cuillin and past the Five Sisters of Kintail.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


I CHECKED the date, and reread Tim Flinn's paean of praise for the old Imperial measures. He would appear to be full of joy, given that the UK Government wants us to adopt them again (Letters, September 18). Not April the first.

So let's go Imperial; you've got the quarter (eight bushels, or is it two stones?) Or is it the quarter of tatties, a quarter stone, being of course three and a half pounds? Four quarters (obviously eight stone) being a hundredweight and 20 of those being a ton. A long ton, of course. A short one being only 2,000 pounds.

Now. We all know that an ounce is 16 drams and a pound is 16 ounces (or 7000 grains) and 14 pounds is a stone.

A pint, of course, is 20 fluid oz. Otherwise 34.68 cubic inches. Quarts are double that and a gallon equals four quarts. A peck is two gallons and as we all remember, a bushel is four pecks.

Gosh! Why don't we reintroduce such a simple system of measurements (not forgetting half-crowns, threepenny bits, guineas and farthings) to boost our post Brexit successes to date?

AJ Clarence, Prestwick.


GOOD luck to the wonderfully talented and impressive new tennis star Emma Raducanu, who has delighted the the nation. And shame on those envious of her 3A stature (athletic, academic, and attractive), who will see her as a target (“Raducanu is joyous now, but wait until a backlash begins”, The Herald, September 17) .

R Russell Smith, Largs.


WAS Glasgow in November chosen for the COP26 by a climate denier? I just can hear them saying "Global warming? Aye, right."

Eric Scott, Bondi Junction, Australia.