Maverick Scot backs three years

November 8, 1996

A Scottish principal has called into question the four-year honours degree as the norm in higher education north of the border.

Donald Leach, who retired this week after 11 years as principal of Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh, said at his final graduation ceremony that a shift to three-year degrees could lead to higher standards throughout the education system, benefiting students, schools, further education colleges and higher education institutions.

His views are at odds with the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, both of which have stressed the value of the four-year degree in their submissions to the Dearing inquiry into higher education.

Professor Leach said there was an argument that it would be cheaper for students to take an extra year in school or further education, allowing universities to offer properly resourced three-year courses rather than underfunded four year ones. "What Dearing and in particular its Scottish committee cannot do is fudge this issue", he said.

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