Readers' reactions

June 23, 2000

Last week in The THES...

... Labour MP Jackie Lawrence argued that Oxbridge MAs should be scrapped.

J.C. HORTON.

University of Nottingham.

Ms Lawrence claims Oxbridge MAs create an advantage in the jobs market. Even assuming employers are as ignorant as she believes, she fails to note that Oxbridge BAs do not become MAs until three-and-a-half years after graduating. Rather too late for that all-important first job. The Scottish undergraduate, on the other hand, becomes an MA immediately. If she really believes Oxbridge MAs confer an advantage, then it follows that she must believe Scottish MAs confer a greater one. This is just another piece of Oxbridge-bashing, which I think even that well-known Edinburgh MA, the chancellor of the exchequer, might regard as going too far.

KEVIN MALONE.

University of Manchester Writing in a personal capacity.

The purchase of Oxbridge MA degrees should be banished into the realm of the historical curiosity. We have many hurdles placed in front of us to account for the quality of higher education provision: what sound criteria does a bought MA advance? What quality-assurance board allows these, but not other, off-the-shelf degrees? Their removal will be a major step forward towards increased quality in HE by reducing unfair practice.

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