Shortcircuit degrees

December 13, 2002

John Sutherland is too cautious: surely we could downsize his proposal for a one-year undergraduate degree to six months ("Why I, THES , December 6).

After all, 360 modular credit hours will, according to his figures, need only a maximum of 1,440 hours of student effort to complete. If a student works at this 56 hours a week (which is just 9.3 hours a day, six days a week), s/he will be the proud owner of a quality degree.

We could reduce the time further by having this fact-shovelling approach self-paced, with "courses" credited each week through examinations only.

Learning takes neural "fixing", not the superficial acquiring of facts to pass exams. Students in music, drama, dance and so many other subjects develop permanent skills that are retained for life.

If I were to be defended in a court of law or operated on in a medical theatre, I wouldn't want my barrister or surgeon to be certified by the quickest and cheapest possible route.

Kevin Malone
Music admissions tutor
University of Manchester

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