Do grades still make the grade? 3

Stephen Gorard advocates a hurdle system for university access. My experience of such a system was excellent. I passed the matura (similar to the baccalaureate) with reasonable grades and could start any course at any Swiss university. I chose electrical engineering despite poor maths results. Unlike 40 per cent of my cohort, I survived the first and second-year exams and gained a degree after four years.

My cousin and I were the first in our family to complete university degrees. In Britain, neither of us would have been allowed to study engineering at a "decent" university. There is a problem, though: the price of widening access using the Swiss approach is a low overall completion rate. Exam boards will have to be tough to be kind. Retention rates could no longer be measures for university performance (yippee).

Felix Schmid
Birmingham University

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Man measuring bar graphs with tape measure

An Elsevier analysis explores the viability of a ‘smarter and cheaper’ model

  • David Willetts

The former universities minister discusses the reforms that reshaped higher education and his first steps into academia

  • Man holding a box filled with work-related items

Refusal by John Allen to obey instruction from manager at Queen Mary University of London led to his sacking, tribunal rules

  • A black and white crowd scene with a few people highlighted

What are the key issues local union branches are dealing with, and how do they manage relationships with institutions in what many activists argue is an increasingly confrontational environment?

  • Muslim woman at graduation ceremony, Barbican, London

Sector called on to embrace faith-related concerns in intellectual debates