ALTHOUGH I welcomed in principle the synopsis of their report by Audrey Cumberford and Paul Little, there was one point which rankled with me ("Reinforcing the pivotal role of Scotland’s colleges", Agenda, The Herald, February 13).

Coming on the heels of the Muscatelli Report (November 2019) which presented a not-too-dissimilar affirmation-themed picture of higher education, this was perhaps an opportunity for the two authors to draw a line in the sand.

Instead, the article states: “While our universities are clearly defined in the public eye, we felt it necessary to go back to basics to distinguish what a modern 21st century college is really for.” I suggest that the dilemma is the other way around.

I would have considered that for several decades, universities have been increasingly offering their own degrees in areas which were traditionally vocational in nature and best delivered by colleges.

I feel that more of our colleges should be chartered to present their own competitive degrees in order to level the field, in terms of accreditation.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

The real pest

ONCE again I must take issue with your correspondents who are determined to blame the grey squirrel, and any other non-human creature, (Herald 13 February) for all the problems on Planet Earth. And once again I have to remind you all that the greatest and most powerful destroyer of the trees is that animal belonging to the human species. I didn't notice the grey squirrel burning down the Amazon so that he can raise cattle to eat burgers, nor did I notice the grey squirrel setting Australia alight.

The language used in the letter from Brian Moughlin (Letters, February 13) is not that used by squirrels – they don't "reclaim the land" or take over "the territory of the reds". Such aggressive language is the language of humankind, which goes to war to seize the territory of other animals and other humans. May I remind your correspondents that the grey squirrel did not ask to come here – he was brought here against his will, simply because stupid humans interfered in the workings of the web of life.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.

Lounging with Laughton

I ENJOYED Russell Leadbetter’s Those were the days feature on Charles Laughton (" Charles Laughton in Edinburgh, 1958", The Herald, February 12).

I recall that the Laughton family owned the Royal Hotel in Scarborough for many years. Recently I was a guest at the Royal, now part of a national hotel group. Following a complaint on limited room space I was assured of an appropriate upgrade on my next visit. To my amazement and amusement of my travelling companions I was placed in the Charles Laughton suite (four-poster bed, separate lounge with fridge).

As reported, "Laughton was a kind, humorous and considerate man". Doubtless he would have approved of the warm gesture afforded me at his former seaside residence of many years ago.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.

Poetic joy

IT is good to see the return of Poem of the Day from its holiday. The disruption of my morning routine, moving from poem to obituaries to sudoku, had been unsettling. Today’s Venus poems were beautiful (February 12). I already knew the last line of Boyd’s Cupid and Venus, but did not realise it had been written more than 400 years ago. Scott’s Continent of Venus is as moving as Ae Fond Kiss. Welcome back, Lesley Duncan.

Gilbert MacKay, Newton Mearns.