Saturday, 26 July 2008


If you are granted a degree in Crime and Disorder, does that mean you are no longer a petty criminal but a qualified one? Inappropriate thoughts like these kept me going through some of the longer sections of the otherwise hugely enjoyable if hot graduation ceremony for the Grimsby Institute at the Town Hall yesterday.

Each of those who spoke revealed how passionate they were about the education being offered. In an area of low educational aspiration and attainment, the development of Higher Education in what was the local Further Education College is hugely significant. The importance of offering local access to degree level work and often doing so in vocational subjects (Early Childhood Studies and Mental Health where two of the other subjects in which awards were being made yesterday afternoon) cannot be over estimated.

As well as flippant thoughts about the name of one of the degrees, and memories of sermon classes twenty-five years ago which had impressed on me that the word ‘finally’ should be used only once and then near the end, I was recalling the bits of speeches at this event in recent years which made these points most powerfully to me.

A visiting University lecturer spoke of being brought up in a mining family. ‘You are really bright,’ his father said to him one day, ‘when you go down the mine, you won’t have to go to the coal face because they’ll put you at the end of the line sorting the material’.

A newly graduating student recalled her failure at school and the extreme persuasion needed to get her to study again. She said she had then despaired when her first assignment had come back marked with a D. She found that a friend’s work was marked with an M. ‘What does that mean?’, she asked. ‘I’ve got a Merit,’ was the proud reply, ‘but that isn’t as good as your Distinction’.

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