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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 18, No. 11. August 12, 1954

Three Letters To The Editor

Three Letters To The Editor

Why Fear?

The Editor.


Dear Sir.

The review by H. S. Commager, which was your front page article last issue, was a compentent account of the dangers of McCarthyism, but it was at least curious that an historian should ask how it happens that so many Americans are consumed with fear" at the present time Mr Commager should not set up as an historian if he does not understand that most people are crightend of nuclear weapons, and of the Soviet.

The fear of such liberals as Mr. Commager for civil freedom is admirable and his question. How can we safeguard our liberties, is one of the most important for any State

However, it is only half the relevant question. He should be asking. How can we safeguard our liberties while safeguarding the State." His bland ignoring of the fact that the nation itself is in danger from several source makes his plea for liberty less impressive than a more realistic approach would be

It is of course, extraordinarily diffcult to guarantee individual freedom in a time of crisis; and it is this problem which should preoccupy the scholar We should remember that an hysteria about the danger to individual liberty is at leant as dangerous as an hysteria about danger to the State

I am, etc.

P. M. Burns

And Now, Sir . . .

The editor,


Dear Sir,

I thought for a while that your worthy predecessor had broken four minutes, and that the record he set for ill-informed and childish editorial comment, with his verdict on Indo-China and his reply to David Scott's letter, would stand for many years. But we have a Landy, and it is you. Sir, with your observations on accrediting.

"It is well agreed." you write Who agrees the Senate Entrance Committee, the four Professors of Education, the ill-informed public, or some headmasters too lazy to make the effort accrediting requires of them. You wouldn't be trying to bulldoze us into agreement? The universities are not overcrowded because there is accrediting. It is, believe a or not, because no new buildings have been put up for over twenty years Your assertion that accrediting "means generally a major lowering of the entrance standard" is completely untrue. Have you not taken the trouble to look up the relevant facts or are you deliberately trying to mislead the reader. I would quote from an address prepared by Dr. J. Williams for the 1953 Congress of Universities of the Commonwealth and printed in the New Zealand University Journal. Vol 2. No 1. The operation of the new system (accrediting) has been twice considered by University Committees, in 1950 by a committee set up by the Senate and in this current year, by a committee appointed by the Academic Board. Each committee reported that there was no evidence to show that accrediting had lowered the standard of entrance to the University. Possibly, indeed, the contrary may be the case." Perhaps it should be explained to these gentlemen that the Editor does not agree.

I am not attempting to say that accrediting is perfect and that exams have no merit at all. It is my impression that the only way of Judging the average person's capacity for benefiting by university study is to try it and see but, I would hasten to repeat, that is only my impression. I am not attempting to deny you or anyone else the right to express their opinions, but I would implore you. Sir, to make an attempt to base your assertions on facts. If you have not time to look up those facts, keeping quiet is not a bad policy.

—I am, etc.

T. H. Beaglehoe.

And Another . . .

The Editor.


Dear Sir,

The new Editor chose as his first editorial a subject which is of vital interest to all concerned with University education. It is a pity that the excellent choice of subject was not matched by the complete knowledge of it.

Where the Editor states ". . the Universities must, in principle, be open without distinction to all persons having on intellectual vocation and the capacities necessary for its fulfilment," I could not agree more. But unfortunately he then sets out to attack entrance to the University by accrediting. He makes the astonishing statement that "It is well agreed at this stage that the system of accrediting for University entrance should be abolished." If it is, by whom? Certainly not the Minister of Education, the University of New Zealand Senate, the Director of Education. Dr. C. E. Beechy. the Vice-chancellor of the University, Dr. Currie, the Victoria College Council, the Secondary Schools Association to mention but a few.

Again, I agree with the Editor that, "the Universities are already hopelessly overcrowded," but this is due rather to the increase in the birthrate of the country since the Universities were built, than to accrediting.

The Committee set up in 1950 to investigate the effects of accrediting under the Chairmanship of Professor I. A. Gordon, found that the percentage increase of students coming to the Universities was no greater than under the old regulations of entrance. Also, that the accredited students on the whole were as good, if not better, students than those who sat and passed matriculation. The committee recommended the continuation of accrediting.

There is certainly room for rethinking the whole question of entrance and the effects on the future University education. It will not be helped by rash generalisations, based on insufficient knowledge, and at times no knowledge at all.—I am., etc.,


(I did not state that overcrowding of the Universities we due to accrediting: accrediting is the better of two Imperfect Entrance systems but "has not fulfilled the purpose for which it was intended" for a number of reasons, one of which is the number of abuse to which it is open and the varying standards; the present system should either be improved upon or replaced by a more objective system; there is not one shred of evidence in either the Senate's report (a very protracted affair) of 1949 or the report of the Academic Board's sub-committee of last year to suggest that accredited students are better students than examination entrants, and if they are surely it Is because the former are in most cases the "pick of the bunch" and consequently the figures are inconclusive and inadmissible as evidence either pro or con: the figures given on page one of the latter report are also inconclusive for statistical analysis and and open to several differing interpretations; the latter committee recommended the continuation of accrediting in the absence of a better system; as for childish, ill-informed opinion and lack of knowledge of the facts, the report of the Auckland Education Hoard subcommittee on accrediting supports my statements with my one qualification that the process of abolition should be a gradual one: Professor Bailey agrees in principle with the recommendations of the latter report, as doubtless do the other authorities you list.