Quid pro quo

Sir

The Dearing proposals on education in the United Kingdom, although not unreasonable in themselves, carry a serious threat to the recruitment of able postgraduate students working for higher degrees. Not only do such students represent the next generation of research workers but their work contributes very significantly to research in progress.

Yet their career prospects are not such as to put them in a position to repay the debt they will have accumulated to cover the cost of their undergraduate education; postgraduate education involves a further period of relative penury with no guaranteed prospects of a tenured appointment when completed.

It would be in the interests of Britain to cancel the debts of such students on their gaining a PhD in an approved field of study within a reasonable time limit, and perhaps also of those who serve a satisfactory apprenticeship in medicine or teaching. This would not be very costly because the numbers are relatively small, and it would act as a spur to recruitment and the completion of their theses.

Perhaps also the United Kingdom should think of designating some of its universities as exclusively postgraduate institutes along the lines of Princeton.

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Davis, J. Quid pro quo . Nature 390, 656 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1038/37718

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