Scots politicians rally to ancient universities over axeing undergraduate MA title

October 29, 1999

Scottish politicians are adding their weight to protests from the ancient Scottish universities over proposals to axe their distinctive MA title for undergraduate degrees, writes Olga Wojtas.

The QAA's consultative paper on higher education qualifications frameworks says the masters title should be restricted to postgraduate qualifications. But this has been condemned by the Scottish Conservative Party as an attempt to Anglicise Scottish higher education.

Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews universities have used the MA title for undergraduate degrees since medieval times, a tradition also shared by Dundee and Heriot-Watt universities.

Brian Monteith, the Scottish Conservatives' spokesman on education, said the Scottish MA was internationally recognised. The QAA's plans had nothing to do with raising standards, but everything to do with standardisation. "We have already witnessed the way in which the government has undermined the traditional four-year Scottish degree by charging English, Welsh and Ulster students tuition fees for the fourth year, and this would be another nail in its coffin," he said.

John Swinney of the Scottish National Party, shadow minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, said: "I certainly intend to make representations to make clear that this is an unwelcome move. I think it will undermine a distinctive feature of the Scottish education system."

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