Letter: Double take

March 23, 2001

Phil Baty's account of the Cambridge debate ("Gamble on PhD double or quits", THES , March 16) implies that awarding two degrees for one thesis would be an innovation.

When I became a Cambridge don, I was encouraged by my college to purchase both an MA and a PhD from the university for - if memory serves - £10 each in 1976. No mention was made of any requirement as tiresome as a thesis. I believe such courtesies were customarily extended to any legitimate doctor from Oxford or Trinity College, Dublin, who saw the light and moved to the Fens. Surely extending this enlightened practice to a broader range of graduates can only enhance the university's reputation for inclusiveness?

The PhD certificate is impressively identical to one for a real Cambridge PhD and, in an accompanying note, the university registrary offers authentication for £1.

I recently saw a CV from an indiscreet Oxbridge graduate that stated that his degrees were "BA (earned), MA (bogus)". The job required plain dealing and honesty. He got it. Could such habits spread to Oxbridge job applicants generally?

I have not yet steeled myself to this practice, but readers may be reassured that at least one of my degrees is genuine (I think).

Leslie Hannah
MA, DPhil (Oxon), MA, PhD (Cantab)

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