Letter: Exam results

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As a male undergraduate reading English at Oxford, I should be perfectly suited to the existing examination system, according to Timothy Morris (letter, 22 August). Why, then, does his response to Bidisha's timely article "Dreaming spires come tumbling down" merely confirm the need for change?

Mr Morris's suggestion that "paraphrased arguments from books on Beowulf" constitute the sole challenge of "examination by dissertation" is insulting to both students and tutors, most of whom thankfully can tell plagiarism from original thought. But worse than that, it reveals a cynical contempt for Oxbridge education as merely a farm for producing unimaginative cheats - a view which betrays the lack of imagination at the heart of his own argument, and at the heart of the problem.

What Mr Morris and the Oxbridge examiners fail to grasp is that the issue is not one of easiness or difficulty, or of male or female, but one of accuracy. In denying any student a grade which accurately reflects the achievement of three years rather than three hours, it is the Oxbridge examination system which is failing, not the student.


Dartington, Devon