Questions of degree 3

November 12, 2004

I was pleased to see Robert Burgess's comments (Soapbox, November 5) about the value of every classification of degree.

This year we awarded a discretionary prize to a graduate who had barely scraped a third. She is a single parent from a family with no tradition of entering higher education living in a deprived rural area.

Throughout school she would probably have been taunted mercilessly by tutors and peers alike for voicing, in her broad Yorkshire accent, even the smallest ambition to study marine biology. But when she came to university, she worked as hard as her life and finances would allow. She also spent three months in Indonesia on a conservation programme.

The fact that many would denigrate her achievements by suggesting that anything less than a 2.1 degree is worthless betrays the selfish arrogance of those who have the luxury of an easy passage into higher education.

Magnus L. Johnson
University of Hull at Scarborough

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