Lee McQueen, the winner of the 2008 series of The Apprentice, is not the only Brit to exaggerate his CV, new research has found.

The recruitment sales manager claimed to have completed two years at Thames Valley University until he confessed in the BBC1 show's interview stage that he dropped out after four months.

But McQueen's lack of a degree was no barrier to his success and on Wednesday night a record audience watched him defeat the challenge of Claire Young, Alex Wotherspoon and Helene Speight to become the fourth person to become Sir Alan Sugar's apprentice.

However, McQueen's desire to exaggerate his own academic achievements is common practice, according to new research from education foundation Edge.

Almost three quarters (72 per cent) of parents surveyed said they suspected other parents stretched the truth about their son or daughter's academic prowess while one in ten admitted to doing it themselves.

And nearly half of (44 per cent) parents revealed they felt they were under a lot of pressure to compare their child's academic achievements with those of their peers.

But McQueen's victory proves a degree is not the only path to success, said Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge.

"Lee has challenged the bizarre belief in this country that you must have a degree to be successful in business," he explained.

"It's very disappointing that he felt he needed to lie about his qualifications in order to succeed but as our figures show the public also seems to think that a university education is obligatory.

"Lee has proved that there are a number of paths to success. I hope that others will accept that they do not necessarily need a degree to get ahead."

16/06/2008 00:01:00