Sunday, April 11, 2004

Why Dumbing Down Matters

As with much else, the L3 attitude to slipping standards in education is infected with the idea that it doesn't matter very much anyway: Conservatives are selfishly trying to limit the number of qualifications in circulation when there's no reasons at all why everyone shouldn't have one. Just give everyone everything, and we'll all be happy.

The latest developments at Manchester Uni exemplify exactly why it does matter.

It is no longer enough to have straight grade As to become a medical student: would-be doctors must also display "humility", a leading university has decided.

Admission tutors at Manchester University are rejecting applicants to study medicine if they do not demonstrate the hitherto rare quality.

Given that medicine is the definitive case of a matter of life & death, it's hard to regard this sort of thing as anything except terrifying: if you've got jammed, you want a good doctor, not a human teddy bear. So why do it ?

The move is part of a bid to distinguish between the thousands of applications from candidates with top A-level results. A large increase in teenagers getting A-grade A-levels - 22 per cent were awarded the top grade last year, compared to just seven per cent in 1983 - has left universities struggling to find ways to distinguish between candidates.

Given that the government has given up testing the important stuff, there's a certain logic in Unis basing their decisions on marginal, touchy-feely garbage. Still, it doesn't fill you with confidence for the future of the medical profession. (and nevermind that this reliance on subjective assessment will inevitably result in a ballooning number of lawsuits).

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