Scots review four-year degree

January 4, 2008

Scotland's traditional four-year degree is expected to come under review by the group looking at the future of higher education north of the border.

The Joint Future Taskforce is made up of Fiona Hyslop, Scotland's Education Secretary, Scottish government officials and representatives of Universities Scotland, along with university heads.

In a statement released after an initial meeting, Ms Hyslop said: "This task force will be vital in challenging universities and Government on what we expect higher education to contribute to our people, our society and our economy. It will also look at the place of Scottish universities in the global market.

"At the same time, we need a hard-nosed look at the costs and resources involved in realising our common ambitions, with an understanding of what might be holding us back, so that we can move to tackle those head on."

A Scottish Government spokesman confirmed that an examination of the four- year degree is likely to form part of the review.

Its origins lie in the sector's historic ties with the Continent, where it was once common for undergraduates to complete two years' study of the humanities before specialising in medicine, law or divinity. It has been argued by some in the sector that the degree should be reduced in length.

A Universities Scotland spokesman said: "The whole point of the task force is to ask challenging questions about the future. We are happy to engage on any issue.

"There is good reason to support the view that the bulk of higher education in Scotland is efficient, effective and world class. That does not mean, however, that there is no scope for improvement."

Terry Brotherstone, president of University and College Union Scotland, called for a more comprehensive review.

"We are deeply disappointed that UCU Scotland has not been consulted about the nature of the review or included in the task force," he said.

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