Mrs V Hird (Letters, March 19) appears to be under the impression universities are simply factories for churning out graduates.

In fact, I have met several graduates who also held this false impression. Far from being used for only six months of the year, universities are hives of activity throughout the year. Outside undergraduate term time the staff are continuing their academic research (without which they would not be able to teach students); Open University summer schools take place, academic conferences are held and numerous other activities take place too.

As for whether all new accommodation should be of the standard required by the conference trade with consequently high student rents, or whether the undergraduate population should be expanding how the government has dictated, those are highly moot points.

Dr Duncan Campbell,

Albemarle Road, York

Updated: 10:30 Saturday, March 26, 2005