Rushda: The world's biggest fast-food provider McDonald's has just been approved to have its own McDonalds qualification, different componants of which could add up to count as an actual A-Level under the new Diplomas offered next autumn. McDonald's is in fact one of a number of new firms which are introducing government-regulated qualifications, other major companies being Flybe and Network Rail. Many are undestandably critical, saying that such a move could give the illusion of academic rigor and thus give a whole new meaning to the already-ridiculed "mickey mouse degree". Prime Minister Gordon Brown has, however, given the new ventures his wholehearted approval, reassuring everyone that this does not mean we are dumbing down as a nation. He says on GMTV about the course:
"It is going to be a tough course, but once you have got a qualification in management you can probably go anywhere. I think that is the important thing, companies prepared to train people up which they weren't doing before, in the way that we want them to do, in a far greater number, so that people have the qualifications for the future."It certainly seems though that the government is doing everything it can to get more people getting qualifications, even if it does mean the qualifications have little respectable substance. When universities were asked whether they would accept such a qualification as a genuine one, predictably they were not too keen. Out of the ten admissions tutors who were asked, at least four said that they would not accept the new Diplomas. Even though they may not be accepted as sturdy A levels, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) have insisted that their approval now presents McDonald qualifications as being on par in terms of assessment. A spokesperson from QCA says:
"The Qualifications Credit Framework is a new framework that allows nationally recognised courses to be broken down into units. It is componentised so if a learner drops out of a course or can't manage to complete they can take those units with them. McDonald's have achieved the standards for awarding accredited qualifications at Level 3. This will enable them to assess, track and recognise learning that otherwise would be lost."Personally I'm in two minds over this. On the one hand, it's great that vocational workplace skills are being given some recognition and next time I order a burger I won't end up with a McFlurry, but at the same time the snobby Oxbridge student in me wants to stamp my foot down in outrage. An A-Level for McDonalds? However good it may be for the restaurant chain itself, I doubt this wolf in sheep's clothing will get a non-McDonalds supper.