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Focus on league table rankings encourages grade inflation at unis.?

The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 has just been published. I find the snapshots on each university a useful way of catching up on current developments. This year I was particularly struck by the statement that at the Uni. of East Anglia "the proportion of first-class degrees has risen by 272% in five years, with one student in three receiving one."

I was reminded of an article on the BBC website in July 2017, which gave detailed figures for the greatest in increase in first-class honours in the previous five years. The list was headed by Surrey (19% to 41%), East Anglia (13% to 34%) and Bradford (10% to 28%). You will find comments in the article suggesting that this is connected with an attempt to rise up the league tables and thus attract more applicants in the competitive market place. ( )

I express in Step 26 my own reservations about the use in league tables of the criterion of "Proportion of First Class and Upper Second Class Degrees".

As employers might find it increasingly difficult to interpret what a First or Upper Second might mean in relative or absolute standards, I suggest that it would be useful to require unis. on degree certificates to give the percentage of degrees awarded in each class in that year both across the uni. as a whole and in the individual's subject. In the latter case the number of students in the cohort should also be given, as the percentages for a small cohort are less significant than those for a large one.

We used this system in UCAS references for IB candidates, indicating the percentage of students across the world who in the previous year scored the maximum 7 points in the applicant's Higher Level subjects, as the percentage varied greatly from subject to subject. This allowed admissions' staff at unis. to put an applicant's predicted score in a useful context.

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