Scotland advances its 'gold standard'

February 3, 1995

Scotland's higher education principals, in their first statement on Government plans to reform school exams, have warned that the proposed two-year Advanced Higher must not be confused with A levels.

Bart McGettrick, vice convener of the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals, Coshep, said: "The more able pupils will take four or five Advanced Highers. We would not wish to see a narrowing of the curriculum so that people were doing two or three."

Coshep predicted that Highers, rather than advanced courses, would remain the "gold standard" for higher education entry once launched in 1997.

"The practicalities are that very few students are going to run the risk of embarking on a two-year course and bypassing a qualification which could gain them entry into university."

John Arbuthnott, Coshep's convener, believed only 5 to 8 per cent of school-leaver entrants would take Advanced Highers.

Some people had feared that Advanced Highers were a plot to undermine the traditional four-year degree, promoting direct entry to the second year.

Highers will be modularised in future, linking academic and vocational courses, he said. This would call for a new level of sophistication in higher education, with admissions tutors considering how qualifications had been made up.

* The proceedings of Coshep's October seminar, Higher Still: Opportunity for All are available from COSHEP, St Andrew House, 141 West Nile Street, Glasgow G1 2RN, Pounds 12 including p&p.

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