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Greatly valued services

Mike Austin asks who speaks for colleges ("Tip for the Association of Colleges: stop being so boring", April 28). I can authoritatively provide him with the answer.

It is the Association of Colleges, which has 98 per cent of all colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently in membership - an outstanding achievement for a membership organisation.

A better question might be why we command such loyalty. We know, because we ask them regularly, that our members greatly value our advice services supporting best practice in employment, quality, estates management, media, governance and almost every substantial aspect of college life.

We know, too, that they greatly value the conferences, seminars and recruitment services we provide - so much so that AoC's annual conference is now the largest non-union education event in the calendar.

We hope our members also understand that much of the immense amount of work we do in Westminster and Whitehall cannot be publicly broadcast and, indeed, many of the large number of sector leaders whom we nominate for government and related working groups will understand at first hand why this is so.

Mike Austin should also be reassured to learn that we are able to capture the attention of the national media.

It's a pity he missed AoC's views on the recent white paper, for example, which made the Today programme, most of the other main BBC news channels, the front-page headline story in The Times, and more than 50 other media outlets. I invite him to review the coverage next time he is near our offices in Centre Point.

Dr John Brennan

Chief executive

Association of Colleges

Centre Point

103 New Oxford Street

London WC1

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