Maths at Cardiff University

As the title implies, this is a statement of my grievance against the Mathematics Department of Cardiff University, grievances concerning the shabby way I was treated when I applied for a course there and the disastrous effect this has had on my one and only life. I ought to stress that I am not arrogantly suggesting that Cardiff should have automatically accepted me - what upsets me is

My original academic career started out thus

  1. When I was at school, I was top of the class at Quarry Bank Grammar School, one of the top schools in Liverpool, and took my O-levels one year early at age 15 ( The original plan would have been A-levels at 17 and degree at 20. Due to an upset at the time, unconnected with school, this was never carried thru ).
  2. When I resumed my education, Liverpool Education Committee, in their wisdom, would not give me a (discretionary) grant to study for A-levels but would give me a grant to study for an OND in Technology at Riversdale College of Technology, Liverpool. I only studied for the first year at Riversdale, doing extra work to enable me to sit my A-levels at the end of the first year, achieving 4 ( Maths, Physics, Economics and General Studies). In the end-of-year results from Riversdale, I achieved a mark of 98% in Mathematics and a similar result in Physics.
The real problems started when
  1. trying to adjust to life in Cardiff after spending so much time out of work in Liverpool,
  2. and actually studying the wrong course (in Engineering).
The difficulty in realising straight away that I was studying the wrong course stemmed from difficulties in (1) When I switched to Mathematics, I accepted a place on an HND at the Polytechnic of Wales - solely because I had absolutely no choice whatsoever. I had to finance myself and the idea of moving somewhere else to get on a degree course was just something that I could never consider financially. I received a letter four weeks before the exam informing me that the bank had bounced a cheque for my tuition fees and that if I did not pay the money within four weeks, I would not be allowed to sit the exams. This was not considered to be an extenuating factor (I found this strange at the time, but actually lack of money never is considered an extenuating factor). Everyone who had higher marks then me got elevated to the degree course. The head of the degree course, one AR Hutchings, followed this up by telling me :

"Your 5 A-Levels don't count for very much because anyone can get 25 A-Levels by the time they're 65"

Letter sent to Professor J. Wiegold 7/8/97

Brian Daugherty, 29 Havelock Road, Portsmouth PO5 1RU

(Details on Internet :

It might be 10 years after the event, but I am still extremely bitter about the way I was treated when I applied to study Mathematics at Cardiff.

I wanted to apply for direct-entry onto the second year at Cardiff by virtue of the fact that I had a HND from the POW. Following my application, I was interviewed by TC Iles for a considerable length of time. I outlined in crystal-clear English how I wanted to attend UWIST and that, although I had a definite offer of a 1-year Degree Diploma course at Leicester University (with finance), I would prefer to study for two years at UWIST for a B.Sc, despite the fact that I would have to pay for myself for the first year.

Iles responded to this by taking the unusual view that this meant I was not committed to the course at UWIST and, in fact, took this view to the extremely unusual extent of ignoring the rule about never giving a reason and told me in writing that I was not fully committed to the course at UWIST.

When I responded by pointing out the error of this judgement, stating that I had a great interest in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Iles responded by saying that the course was not a course in Theoretical Physics but in Mathematics and its Applications. I have listed on a separate sheet the subjects offered at this time - I would be grateful if you could tell me the difference between Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and how an interest in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics could be so fatal to my application to study these subjects.

I did get accepted at UCC but only if I started right from the first year again. The only option was to move away (to Newcastle). It goes without saying to anyone with any ounce of social knowledge that moving away from my hometown to try and study without a grant automatically means that I am greatly disadvantaged.

As it turned out I wish I had taken up the offer of a place at UCC. I remember at the time that It would have been too depressing beyond belief to have to start right from the beginning again, but in the long run I would have been much highly qualified, and hopefully would have gained my Ph.D a few years ago.

I was subjected to two very strange statements during my interview at UWIST

1) When I told Iles that I wanted to progress from a degree to a Ph.D, he replied by saying : I donít recommend it - not unless you have a 1st. class or 2/1.

2) At the time I was 33 years old. I was doing my best to try and make up as much lost time as possible (by rights , I should have attended University much earlier - ideally when I was 20 years old), and the ageist attitude in the present high-unemployment economy is a good incentive to get things over as soon as possible. When I mentioned my age to Horner, she replied : "As you get older, it becomes less important to get any qualifications as quick as you canĒ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. (Having taken the trouble to write down Hornerís statement on paper, I am not totally certain that a third party will understand how thoroughly ridiculous the statement is).

W.r.t. the attitude that I was not fully committed to the course it was especially strange that Iles and Horner had both regaled me earlier with a story about a 50-year student who was allowed to study at UWIST but not from an overwhelming interest in the course but only because he had nothing else to do.

I had a hell of a time adjusting to life after being unemployed for so long in Liverpool. The amount of time and effort I put in to sorting things out and trying to get back on course was incredible, and to have someone take the carpet from beneath me after all that work and effort was unbelievable.

If I had gone to UWIST, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that I would have expected to achieve a first-class degree . Nothing anyone says or does will ever change my mind on this issue.

Applied Mathematics Subjects offered at UWIST

I would be grateful if you could tell me the difference between Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and how an interest in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics could be so fatal to my application to study these subjects, above