Be fair or be flexible 2

November 9, 2007

Derek Rowntree has a point (Letters, November 2): it is undoubtedly useful (to car owners) to receive a comprehensive report following a series of basic checks. But if a student's degree is worth anything it should not be possible to do the same. A degree class is simply a guide to relative merit in a particular field. A transcript showing courses and marks gives a fuller picture. But there we should stop.

While marks may conceal a degree of subjectivism, this is because students are taught by humans - professionals, for whom the teaching of subject knowledge and critical thinking are central, not some catch-all easily describable or transferable skill.

It should never be possible to summarise individual student achievement in a way that might serve all potential employers - which is why academics are called upon to write job references.

It's time to stop the rot and apply some trust. A brain is not a car engine.

Gillian Ania, Salford University.

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