Not old but valuable

October 21, 2005

Alan Ryan is correct to point out that "our 'ancient' degree system is no such thing" (Columnist, October 7) since most students at England's two antique universities did not until late Victorian times bother to complete their degrees. This was necessary only for those aspiring to be Anglican bishops or wardens of Oxbridge colleges. But what Plato in The Republic called "the necessary lie" of dividing people into "first, second and third-class minds", or the men of gold, silver and bronze, goes back to the very origins of academe. I agree with Ryan that borrowing US transcriptsJwould contribute to the erosion of this Holy Trinity.

Patrick Ainley

Greenwich University

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