Reduction technique

October 8, 2004

It has been recognised for a long time that the brevity of the English first degree was possible only because of the early specialisation in English schools, in contrast with the four-year Scottish degree, which is based on the less specialised Scottish Higher, and the even longer first degrees in continental countries, all of which had less specialised school curricula.

This lesson seems to have been forgotten by Bologna and Tomlinson. Both are advocating three-year first degrees based on the broader school curricula. I have considerable sympathy with my Czech colleagues who oppose this move to fit a litre into a half-litre glass ("Bologna reforms meet resistance", October 1). In the words of their hero, Jan Hus, I hope "truth will prevail".

Lewis Elton
University College London

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