Don't write off young talent

February 21, 2008

I was amused and irritated to read David Abulafia's remarks about the folk with decent 2:1s and no realistic hope of an academic career hankering after a PhD ("Cambridge asks questions of its many masters", 7 February). I write as one such who hankered after a PhD and has had thereafter a moderately successful academic career. Additionally I cast my mind over my colleagues and have thought of more than one, similarly qualified at undergraduate level, currently occupying high-profile chairs in Russell Group universities.

Over the years I have sat on professorial appointment and promotion committees, and never once has an applicant's undergraduate degree been a point of discussion. Does Abulafia really think that an academic trajectory is determined by the age of 21? This is giving the worst possible message to gifted young people who have not yet realised their full academic potential.

Mike Baynham
Professor of TESOL
University of Leeds.

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