Universities stand by Higher Still

4th July 1997 at 01:00
Recent comments in the press about the attitudes of higher education to the Government programme on Higher Still have been characterised by being ill informed and therefore tendentious. At the meeting with the Secretary of State and the Minister of Education on June 23 the principals of all Scottish universities indicated their unequivocal support for Higher Still.

They indicated that their reason for seeing the Higher as "the gold standard", or normal way of expressing entry requirements, was to avoid a situation in which those students who were in schools or colleges where the Advanced Higher was not available would not be disadvantaged.

The principals also indicated that where applicants had awards beyond the Higher these would be taken into account and credit given as appropriate. The form of this credit would have to vary from course to course.

It is interesting to note that there is allegedly a large interest in students entering the second year of university courses if they had Advanced Highers. At present the evidence for this would be thin, since fewer than 10 per cent of students currently offered them take up these abbreviated courses because of their A-level awards.

The debates about progression from secondary to university education will no doubt continue with the forthcoming Dearing report, but hopefully will do so based on the full understanding that universities will take account of all awards and give due recognition to these as appropriate. Surely students, teachers and all who have the education of future generations at heart could not ask for more?

BART McGETTRICK

Principal St Andrrew's College, Bearsden

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