Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ten Minute Rule Bill

Labour MP Chris Leslie has proposed a bill aiming to end the long-standing tradition whereby graduates of Oxford or Cambridge are entitled to convert their BA degrees to MAs without having to undertake any extra work or study.

On 15 February 2011, Mr Leslie described the practice as "outdated and unfair".

"There is no logical or justifiable defence for this historical anachronism. It grew out of ancient circumstances that have long become irrelevant," he told MPs.

Mr Leslie told MPs: "It's assumed in our society that hard work, ability and merit are the determining characteristics necessary to obtain academic qualifications.

"Yet there is a glaring anomaly in our education system which undermines the value of post-graduate credentials."

Unveiling his Master's Degree (Minimum Standards) Bill, Mr Leslie argued: "It's time to discontinue the ability of Oxbridge colleges to award un-earned qualifications that can cause such easy confusion."

But Conservative MP Mark Field spoke against Mr Leslie's bill, arguing: "Our elite universities are global brands. They should not sit back and take ever more government interference."

Mr Leslie's bill received a first reading, but is unlikely to become law without government support.

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