The Telegraph reports that three quarters of graduates now obtain a first class degree or a 2:1 as the Office for Students warns it will name and shame universities found to be deliberately inflating grades.
Figures released yesterday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveal that persistent grade inflation resulted in 100,495 students graduating with top honours last year, up 40 percent in just four years.
The year-on-year rise has prompted calls for wholesale reform in the sector, amid fears that the trend is devaluing qualifications and making it harder for employers to differentiate between graduates.
Last night the new university regulator warned that universities found to be engaging in foul play would face “strong regulatory action”, as it reiterated calls for the creation of sector-wide standards for awarding degrees.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said that suspect institutions would be subject to monitoring and analysis and, if found to be breaching regulation, face being publicly listed.
They added that if universities failed to comply, the regulator would be free to pursue harsher punishments, including fines, suspension and even being stripped of their degree awarding status.
Examples include the University of Surrey, which has seen a 41 percent hike in five years, and the University of East Anglia, where the number of firsts has trebled to 37 percent during the same period.
“Universities are essentially massaging the figures, they are changing the algorithms and putting borderline candidates north of the border,” said Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).
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