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Graduates are as able as ever

Bold and eloquent in front of an audience; stumbling and inarticulate on the page. Hugely savvy at navigating the web; cowed and reluctant when scanning the library shelves. Well versed in technology, interview techniques and primary sources; flimsy on poetry, algebra and history.

Such is the picture that emerges of students who entered university in 2006, after The TESS asked academics from across the country about school-leavers' ability to handle university work.

The findings did not surprise Jim Docherty, depute general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association. But it would be a mistake to brand today's university entrants as less able - they just have a broader range of skills, he said.

"We all know about the perception that young people are not as good with writing and numbers as they were 20 years ago," he said. "That may well be true, but I think we're faced with a curriculum that is very much expanded; young people are doing things they were never doing before."

EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith was encouraged by the reports from universities of an improvement in oral skills.

He shifted the focus onto the abilities of university students upon graduation. "There doesn't seem to be a crisis in terms of what's coming out at the end of the process - we are producing good young graduates in significant numbers."

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