Dozens of British degree courses see every single student getting top grades

Oct 13, 2013 by

Critics say grades have been pushed up as a ‘marketing ploy’

Top degrees have been awarded to every single student on dozens of British degree courses, a Mail on Sunday investigation into ‘rampant’ grade inflation has found.

On more than 50 courses at universities across the country, in subjects ranging from engineering to English, 100 per cent of students were awarded a First or a 2:1.

At some institutions, the proportion of students achieving at least a 2:1 – a key requirement for many employers – has leapt over the past five years.

On more than 50 courses at universities across the country, in subjects ranging from engineering to English, 100 per cent of students were awarded a First or a 2:1

On more than 50 courses at universities across the country, in subjects ranging from engineering to English, 100 per cent of students were awarded a First or a 2:1

 

Critics said universities were pushing up grades as a ‘marketing ploy’ to attract students paying up to £9,000 a year, and warned that degrees no longer reflect the true abilities of graduates.

However, universities said the rises reflected improvements in A-level grades.

Among the 40 universities that responded to freedom of information requests, 32 had degree courses where between 90 and 100 per cent of students were awarded a First or a 2:1. On some courses, more than half of the  students were awarded Firsts.

All 31 students on the music technology and popular music degree course at Huddersfield University were awarded a First or a 2:1 this year – compared with 33 per cent five years ago.

Similarly, all 25 students on the building services engineering course at Liverpool John Moores University were awarded a First or a 2:1 this year, compared with 61 per cent five years ago.

And everyone studying English language and linguistics at the University of the West of England achieved a First or a 2:1, up from 71 per cent five years ago.

All 31 students on the music technology and popular music degree course at Huddersfield University (pictured) were awarded a First or a 2:1 this year


Among the 40 universities that responded to freedom of information requests, 32 had degree courses where between 90 and 100 per cent of students were awarded a First or a 2:1

Among the 40 universities that responded to freedom of information requests, 32 had degree courses where between 90 and 100 per cent of students were awarded a First or a 2:1

 

 

As in previous years, elite institutions – including Oxford, Cambridge and University College London – had the highest number of courses recording between 90 and 100 per cent Firsts or 2:1s.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency warned that where student numbers on courses are very low, a few individual results could skew the outcome. But the agency’s own data showed a record two-thirds of all students got either a First or a 2:1 in 2012.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said that grade inflation had become ‘rampant’ because there were no national standards for degrees, and it enabled institutions to boost their rankings in league tables.

Fellow Buckingham academic Professor Geoffrey Alderman said: ‘It is the “all must have prizes” approach.’

Birmingham University Professor John Thornes said grade inflation was a ‘marketing ploy’.

But Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: ‘There may be a range of factors behind these results. The number of students on many of the courses is small. The degrees in question also represent a fraction of the courses often available at individual universities.

‘The proportion of Firsts and 2:1s has increased marginally in recent years, reflecting increases in entry qualifications. A-level performance has improved, as have learning methods. However, the current degree classification system is a blunt instrument.’

via Dozens of British degree courses see every single student getting top grades | Mail Online.

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