The Telegraph is reporting that universities with soaring grading inflation may be forced to introduce a common marking criteria with other institutions after heavy criticism from a cabinet minister.
One of the ideas being put forwards for consultation by Universities UK is agreeing common criteria, to be used by all universities, to describe the quality of work required for each degree classification.
Another suggests reconsidering whether or not raw marks should be rounded up to the nearest whole number when grading work.
The upward trend in grade awards is significant, sector wide, and, in some cases, has accelerated. Over the past decade, the number of graduates receiving at least an upper second-class degree (ie, a 2.1) has risen by 55%, at an average rate of 5% annually.
During the same period, the proportion of upper degrees awarded increased from 61% to 75% of all classified first degrees, and the proportion of first class honours degrees doubled, from 13% to 26%.
A new report by Universities UK (UUK), GuildHE and QAA, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, on behalf of the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) looked at the reasons behind the increase in the number of graduates receiving first and upper-second class degrees.
As part of the consultation, universities will consider whether steps should be taken to reduce the potential for inflationary impacts of incentives in organisational performance linked to the number of upper degrees awarded in league tables.
Professor Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton and Chair of UUK’s Student Policy Network, said: “It is essential that the public has full confidence in the value of a degree, and that degree classifications are meaningful for employers and students.
“We want to see greater levels of transparency and consistency in academic standards.”
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