When I took “A levels” as a student at a fine grammar school, Howardian High School in Cardiff, the WJEC exams were considered very challenging and among the toughest offered by any of the exam boards. Indeed in the autumn of 1961, before we sat WJEC “A levels”, we were encouraged to sit the “A Level” exams set by London University Boards as practice. The consensus amongst us sixth formers was that the London Board exams were rather easier but good practice nonetheless. I then attended that wonderful federal institution, the University of Wales and went to Aberystwyth. Proudly displayed on my office wall is a certificate from “Universitas Cambrensis” with the details of my honours degree in science. Sadly the original federal university is no more and all of the prime constituent colleges are now individual universities. I then went on to study at the University of California, Berkeley, another federal university system and one of the very finest in the World. Nobody in California saw fit to destroy that federal arrangement. Instead they have honed and polished the University until it sits at the very pinnacle of the World’s universities.
So here we are in 2012 and it is a doleful scene to contemplate. Howardian High School, a great educational institution, was swept away in the 1970’s along with other fine schools in Cardiff and around Wales. The University of Wales, such as remains, is embroiled in scandal and its woeful mismanagement and endorsement of suspect colleges around the World have completely ruined the name of what was once a fine university system that also carries the name of our country. More recently the actions of the WJEC have dragged what was once considered one of the best exam boards in Britain, deep into the mire of ridicule.
Robert Heming, Houston