Stupid argument

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Years ago, a Labour politician said that it was “a national disgrace that there are people in this country earning less than the average wage”.

While his point was obvious, and probably justified, he had fallen into the trap that continues to bedevil politicians and educators.

Johann Lamont’s speech and Brian Wilson’s article (19 
December) are cases in point.

When will these people 
finally and openly recognise that intelligence and aptitude for academic achievement play a significant part in scholastic results, and that there are 
hereditary factors in play.

IQ is measured round an average and there must, inevitably, be those who are below that line.

What we should be seeking to achieve is equality of opportunity and not of attainment, and that focus on university level entrance should not be to the detriment of the provision of a good quality education to prepare pupils for non-
academic careers.

This should include the availability of meaningful apprenticeships which are the norm in countries like Germany and Switzerland.

Stewart Hamilton

Emeritus Professor of 
Accounting and Finance



St Andrews is one of our smallest universities with only 2 per cent of available places, yet it admits 10 per cent of all qualified Scottish students from deprived backgrounds.

But far from being praised for its success in widening access, it is subject to endless carping from the government, its quangos and the usual suspects in the leftist NUS.

My alma mater is the victim of the SNP’s incoherent education policy which funds only 500 places for Scottish students and fines the university if it exceeds that total.

Most deprived areas are in the west and students from there are the least geographically mobile and least likely to feel drawn to a residential university in the remote East Neuk.

But the real problem of access is the dire condition of state secondary education which once enabled children like me to sail into St Andrews from the west-central coalfields.

John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews