Letters: Our universities have not been able to evolve over time and persist with old tired systems

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ROSEMARY Goring, in a provocative play, wonders if the age of universities is over (“Is the great age of universities and all they stand for over?” The Herald, September 15). Their demise began under Tony Blair, when the era of mass higher education was ushered in, and they failed to emulate the American system and similarly continued to give very specialized degrees.

By the age of 18, most young people have no idea what they want to do with their lives. They even have no idea what is on offer. In fact, in our rapidly changing world, what’s on offer today will be an old hat when they graduate tomorrow. The American system is right. Most young people want and deserve a good general liberal education as a preparation for life. They have all the time in the world to specialize later. In addition, students should be able to move freely from one university to another, taking their credits with them.

Universities have shown how icy and medieval their modus operandi is when they attempt to reinvent the wheel of distance education. The Open University pioneered and perfected distance learning more than half a century ago. The point is, UK universities excel at paralysis of analysis. Nothing changes until it becomes impossible to stay the same.

Doug Clark, Currie.

LONG HISTORY OF THE AMBULANCE STRAIN

Thirteen years ago my husband passed away from an angiogram which caused heart failure. It was an accident. After many years of Jim suffering with an inherited mitral valve problem causing prolapse and periodically very distressing symptoms, I was used to emergencies that occurred in the early hours of the morning. On a very distressing occasion I phoned NHS24 as I was unable to help Jim, and was informed that as the ‘ambulance’ was off the island (Skye) , I had to take him to Broadford Hospital myself.

It was 3 am, it was raining hard and it was dark. I left my nightgown under my pimp, put on the rubber boots, and drag the poor guy to the car. His breathing was very labored. All 50 miles from our house to Broadford, I shouted at him to keep breathing – lots of cursing took place. After a nightmarish journey we arrived there and Jim was taken care of by the staff at this wonderful Broadford hospital. I was treated too.

I was so sorry to hear about the poor ailing gentleman who lay on the ground for 40 hours, before dying, while waiting for an ambulance (“Family grief as father of three dies waiting for 40 hours of ambulance “, The Herald, September 16). I know the feelings of helplessness and panic; they happened on several occasions for Jim and me.

One of my trips, acting as his ambulance, was from Skye to Inverness when he suffered a severe reaction to a drug that made his feet black and it was imperative that he be rushed to hospital immediately. There was no ambulance available and it was Boxing Day.

Direction Inverness this time, again in a nightgown, mac and rubber boots (it was very early in the morning) because Jim was more important than my fashion statement. Everything was fine, finally, after the three hour drive to Inverness, and luckily there was no snow. Just rain.

Our ambulance service a few years ago was made up of excellent, hard-working people looking after the islanders, but it was clearly under-resourced back then. This still seems to be the case everywhere, so I would call on the Scottish government to act quickly to make life easier for the paramedics attending to us when it is needed most, making our lives safer.

I still have the same mac and the rubber boots. My Jim is long gone, but I keep them in memory of those mind-blowing feats through the Cuillin foothills and beyond the Five Sisters of Kintail.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE

I checked the date and reread Tim Flinn’s praise for the old imperial measures. He seems to be full of joy, given that the UK government wants us to adopt them again (Letters, September 18). Not on April 1st.

So let’s go Imperial; you have the quarter (eight bushels, or is that two stones?) Four quarters (obviously eight stones) being a quintal and 20 of them being a ton. A long ton, of course. A short being only 2,000 pounds.

Now. We all know that an ounce is 16 drams and a pound is 16 ounces (or 7000 grains) and 14 pounds is a stone.

One pint, of course, equals 20 fluid ounces. Otherwise 34.68 cubic inches. The quarts are double and one gallon equals four quarts. One peak equals two gallons, and as we all remember, one bushel equals four peaks.

My God ! Why not reintroduce such a simple measurement system (not to mention half crowns, dime bits, guineas and farthings) to boost our post Brexit successes to date?

AJ Clarence, Prestwick.

EMMA AND THE THREE

GOOD luck to wonderfully talented and impressive new tennis star Emma Raducanu, who has thrilled the nation. And shame on those who are envious of her 3A (athletic, academic and good-looking) stature, who will see her as a target (“Raducanu is cheerful now, but wait for a backlash to begin,” The Herald, September 17).

R Russell Smith, Largs.

PAYING THE MEDICINE ON COP26

Was Glasgow chosen in November for COP26 by a climate denier? I can just hear them say “Global warming? Yes, that’s it.”

Eric Scott, Bondi Junction, Australia.

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