By any estimation Charles Waldstein (later Walston) was an interesting man.

Born into a Jewish family in New York in 1856, he was the Director of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum, the archaeologist who excavated Aristotle’s tomb, and both an organiser of and competitor in the Games of the First Olympiad, held in Athens in 1896.

But Waldstein was also a firm believer in a subject about which we have been hearing a lot of late – student choice. Seen as the necessary and desirable corollary of enhanced competition, student choice is central to the current government’s higher education reform agenda. But as Waldstein’s comments in the early years of the twentieth century show, it is by no means a concept that is new to British universities.

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