Letter: Unqualified success

January 5, 2001

Matthew Chapman is concerned degree mills are harming the reputation of UK higher education ("I'd like one doner kebab and a PhD to take away", THES, December 15). Surely more important are the activities of "real" universities?

I know a Chinese student who holds an unconditional offer from an "old" university for an MBA. She has no first degree and her work experience consists of "sometime do some job for dad". With an English language TOEFL score of 520, she is incapable of conducting a basic English conversation.

After ten years on the overseas student recruitment circuit, I know the acceptance of such applicants is not unusual and that by summer 2002 she will have a British "postgraduate" degree. The sole reason for this is that the university will have relieved her parents of about Pounds 10,000.

At least the degree mills are a lot less expensive.

Robert Walls
Camberley, Surrey

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