Clueless at Cambridge; Up to Two-Thirds of Our Students Shouldn't Even Be Here, Claims Don

Daily Mail (London), January 23, 2004 | Go to article overview

Clueless at Cambridge; Up to Two-Thirds of Our Students Shouldn't Even Be Here, Claims Don


Byline: SARAH HARRIS

UP to two-thirds of students on some degree courses at Cambridge University are unsuited to academic studies, a don claimed yesterday.

Dr John Marenbon, a fellow of Trinity College, questioned whether many undergraduates have the 'right type of intellect' to benefit fully from studying at the elite institution.

His comments come as the Government presses for 50 per cent of young people to experience higher education by 2010.

Dr Marenbon said this target should be scrapped, adding that the current level of 43 per cent may even be too high.

According to him, not everyone is suited to rigorous academic discipline - including students on some courses at Cambridge.

Writing in a pamphlet by the thinktank Politeia, he said: 'Serious engagement in academic study (or even in a rigorous and demanding non-academic subject such as law or medicine) requires a type of intellect and cast of mind which is not all that common.

'My own experience in teaching a range of subjects (philosophy, history, English, theology, Latin) is that roughly a third to a half of the undergraduates-admitted to Cambridge, one of the most difficult British universities to enter, have the characters and minds fully to benefit from academic, university-level study: a very small proportion indeed of the age group.' Dr Marenbon warned that countries with university participation rates above 50 per cent often have high dropout rates or suffer from 'extreme laxity both in teaching and examination'. …

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