Record number of UK university students awarded first-class degrees, figures show

Posted in Teaching on January 17th, 2019 by steve

“A record number of first-class degrees were awarded to graduates last year despite growing pressure on UK universities to tackle grade inflation. More than a quarter (28%) of graduates now leave UK universities with top marks – a rise of two percentage points, figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) reveal …” (more)

[Eleanor Busby, Independent, 17 January]

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Continuous Assessment, Grade Inflation and the Leaving Cert

Posted in Teaching on January 9th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The figure below shows the exam and CA marks for two of my third year modules in DCU for the last three years. The blue data is for a rather mathematical module for which the CA is worth 20% of the module marks. Two of us teach into the module and both of our CAs involve in-class tests …” (more)

[An Irish Blog about Education, 9 January]

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Back to Exams

Posted in Teaching on January 4th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Well here I am, back in my office at Maynooth University, although I wish I could say the same about the heating. The Christmas closure officially ended yesterday (3rd January) but there are very few people about today and no heating in my office. I doubt there will be anywhere open to get lunch later. And did I mention there’s no heating? …” (more)

[In the Dark, 4 January]

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Grade inflation and academic standards

Posted in Teaching on January 4th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – Considering how much coverage your newspaper gives to education, the shallowness of your analysis (in your editorial ‘Keeping an eye on standards’ of January 3rd) of ‘grade inflation’ in Irish third-level institutions, and the implied suggestion that our quality systems are somewhat lacking, is surprising …” (more)

[Letters, Irish Times, 4 January]

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Staff protest over ‘grade inflation’ at institute of technology

Posted in Teaching on December 31st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Lecturers at Institute of Technology Tralee are refusing to attend exam and course meetings after an exam board at the college overturned a lecturer’s marks for every student in his class. The industrial action, which was voted for by 65% of the members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland at IT Tralee, has raised concerns about academic standards at the college …” (more)

[Peter McGuire, Irish Times, 31 December]

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Irish universities’ grade inflation sparks claims of ‘dumbing down’

Posted in Teaching on December 31st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Students are most likely to secure first or upper-second class degrees at Dublin City University (72%), followed by University College Dublin (71%) and University College Cork (69%). They are more difficult to come by at University of Limerick (53%) and NUI Galway (63%). Trinity College Dublin’s figures are more difficult to calculate …” (more)

[Peter McGuire and Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 31 December]

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Revealed: the universities most likely to award higher grades

Posted in Teaching on December 31st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Which university offers the best shot of a first-class or 2.1 degree? Is there much difference between University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin? The Irish Times has used a mix of Freedom of Information requests and statistics from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to crunch the numbers. The analysis shows grades at Ireland’s seven universities have been rising consistently over the past decade …” (more)

[Peter McGuire and Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 31 December]

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Fines for Firsts

Posted in Teaching on December 19th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Today’s Guardian reports that in the UK, that the University watchdog (OfS) ‘threatens fines over grade inflation’. This is as a consequence of the proportion of first class degrees increasing from 16% to 27% in six years. According to the article ‘84% of universities seeing significant unexplained increases in the number of first-class degrees awarded’. Below I have drawn a chart showing the average percentage of First Class Honours Degrees for 148 Universities across the UK showing the 16% to 27% increase …” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 19 December]

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Universities told to end ‘spiralling’ grade inflation

Posted in Teaching on December 19th, 2018 by steve

“Universities in England are giving too many students top degree grades, the Office for Students (OfS) has warned. The watchdog’s analysis shows the number of graduates being awarded first and upper-second class degrees rose from 67% in 2010-11 to 78% in 2016-17 …” (more)

[Katherine Sellgren, BBC News, 19 December]

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Grade Inflation

Posted in Teaching on November 29th, 2018 by steve

“Are universities handing out more firsts than than they should … or than they used to? That is the story. And may be we should wait until the reporters have reported. But from the coal face, there are some obvious answers. Yes, over my career, we are giving more firsts. But more to the point we are giving even more 2.1s and even fewer 2.2s and 3rds (which have been virtually eradicated). Why is that? …” (more)

[Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement, 28 November]

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UK degree algorithms: the nuts and bolts of grade inflation

Posted in Governance and administration, Teaching on July 16th, 2018 by steve

“Concerns about UK grade inflation are now such a regular feature in the media that most of us are probably in the terminal stages of grade inflation fatigue. It is also the case that the term itself is interpreted in two different ways leading to two (intertwined) debates where both require a different policy response …” (more)

[David Allen, Wonkhe, 15 July]

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Crying ‘grade inflation’ dismisses students’ achievements at university

Posted in Teaching on June 22nd, 2018 by steve

“On Thursday morning, I travelled to another university to act as an external examiner for one of their degrees. Before I left the house, I listened to the Today programme. On the show, I heard Tom Richmond from the think-tank Reform complaining that universities were ‘handing out incredible numbers of top degrees’ because the system allows them to ‘mark their own homework’ …” (more)

[Alice Bennett, New Statesman, 22 June]

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Too many firsts risk universities’ credibility, says think tank

Posted in Teaching on June 21st, 2018 by steve

“Universities risk losing their credibility due to ‘rocketing’ grade inflation, a think tank has said. According to Reform, the proportion of firsts awarded almost doubled between 1997-2009 and rose by 26% since 2010 …” (more)

[BBC News, 21 June]

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UK university figures show up to fivefold rise in first-class degrees

Posted in Teaching on June 14th, 2018 by steve

“British universities have been handing out higher-class degrees at an unprecedented rate over the past decade, according to detailed figures released by the higher education regulator. The figures, from a selection of universities taking part in the government’s latest teaching excellence framework, known as Tef3, show huge variation …” (more)

[Richard Adams, Guardian, 13 June]

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The joys of marking … or ‘grading’

Posted in Teaching on June 4th, 2018 by steve

“If there is one thing that follows showing up at an exam room, it’s a pile of scripts to mark on the kitchen table (or to ‘grade’ as my American colleagues would say … in fact a Californian friend observed after my last post that almost all the technical terms for exams are different across the Atlantic, ‘invigilating’ vs ‘proctoring’, ‘sitting vs taking’ etc) …” (more)

[Mary Beard, A Don’s Life, 3 June]

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Lecturers face investigation if average mark below 2:1

Posted in Teaching on February 1st, 2018 by steve

“Staff at a Russell Group university have been told that they will face investigation over their grading if they award average marks lower than a 2:1. In an email seen by Times Higher Education, lecturers at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Business and Management are told that they must remember what is called the ’60:60:60 principle’ when assessing students’ work …” (more)

[Jack Grove, Times Higher Education, 1 February]

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Are today’s degrees really first class?

Posted in Teaching on January 29th, 2018 by steve

“The annual data release published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency can usually be relied upon to show an uptick in the proportion of firsts awarded. This is accompanied by newspaper inches decrying the decline of academic standards in the UK and a reaction that points to the improvements in teaching and the motivation of contemporary students …” (more)

[William Hammonds, Wonkhe, 29 January]

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Grade inflation could be the next battleground for higher education

Posted in Teaching on January 26th, 2018 by steve

“Data published by HESA in January 2018 shows that more than a quarter of UK undergraduates completing their studies in 2017 were awarded first-class honours. In 2012, the corresponding figure was only 18% …” (more)

[Allan Howells, Wonkhe, 25 January]

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Now students pay thousands, firsts are on the rise. Fancy that

Posted in Teaching on January 15th, 2018 by steve

“Many proud academics must have spluttered over their morning coffee in the senior common room to learn that a first-class degree, once as rare as hen’s teeth, is now more akin to a hen’s egg: we can all have one for breakfast, it seems, if we can only be bothered to go out to collect it …” (more)

[Vanessa Thorpe, Guardian, 14 January]

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Upgrading all borderline students’ degree classes ‘unacceptable’

Posted in Teaching on October 22nd, 2017 by steve

“UK universities must ensure that their policies on borderline scores do not in effect lower the thresholds for degree classifications, sector bodies say. In a new report, Universities UK and GuildHE call for more transparency around degree algorithms – the set of rules that institutions follow to determine a student’s final degree classification …” (more)

[Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education, 18 October]

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