Grade inflation: lowering standards in higher education

Posted in Teaching on November 4th, 2021 by steve

Ireland“Grade inflation – an improvement in examination grades over time without an accompanying improvement in learning or academic achievement – has been a worrying feature of third-level education for over 30 years …” (more)

[William Reville, Irish Times, 4 November]

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Number of students in higher education rises 17.5% in six years

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on October 11th, 2021 by steve

Ireland“The number of students enrolled in higher level education has increased by almost 17.5% over the past six years, according to new data released by the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The number of students enrolled in third-level institutions rose from 209,000 in 2014 to 245,000 in 2020 …” (more)

[Jade Wilson, Irish Times, 11 October]

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Higher Education – Key Facts and Figures 2020/2021

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration, Teaching on October 11th, 2021 by steve

Ireland“The number of enrolments in higher education has increased by almost 17.5% over the past six years and new data released today by the Higher Education Authority reveals that more and more students are now achieving first class honours than before …” (more)

[Maura O’Shea, HEA, 11 October]

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Is the concept of exit velocity for final-year students fact or fiction?

Posted in Teaching on September 3rd, 2021 by steve

“Does exit velocity actually exist? Or is it merely a convenient fiction, which should not be used to determine algorithms? The Universities UK/Guild HE Understanding Degree Algorithms (2017) report showed us that of 100 responding institutions, 87 used exit velocity in their algorithm for calculating degree classification …” (more)

[Katie Akerman, Wonkhe, 3 September]

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Determinants of Degree Quality in Ireland

Posted in Research, Teaching on May 14th, 2020 by steve

“Results from a piece of research conducted by Professor Paul J Devereux from UCD, following access to HEA Statistics Unit SRS data. The paper looks at the determinants of degree quality in Ireland – in terms of finishing and final grade (‘good’ degree and ‘great’ degree) …” (more, download)

[Victor Pigott, HEA, 13 May]


Students awarded first class degrees at record high despite crackdown on grade inflation

Posted in Governance and administration on January 17th, 2020 by steve

“More than one in four university graduates are still being awarded first class degrees despite a crackdown on grade inflation. A record number of students, 28.4%, were given a top degree last year – double the 14% who gained a first a decade ago, Higher Education Statistics Agency data revealed …” (more)

[Eleanor Busby, Independent, 16 January]

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Grade inflation is soaring: Are degrees losing all meaning?

Posted in Teaching on August 14th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“First-class honours and 2.1 grades have increased significantly in most Irish universities, institutes of technology and colleges over the last ten years, an analysis by has found. The upward trend has led academics and recruiters to warn that third-level degrees are becoming ubiquitous, with employers struggling to differentiate one first-class honours or 2.1 degree from another in their search for top talent, and extracurricular activities and work experience becoming increasingly important for students …” (more)

[, 13 August]

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‘Grade inflation’ means 80% more top degree grades

Posted in Teaching on July 11th, 2019 by steve

“The proportion of students in England awarded first-class degrees continues to increase – rising by 80% since 2010-11, the university watchdog says. The Office for Students, warning of grade inflation, says for almost three-quarters of universities such increases in top grades are ‘unexplained’ …” (more)

[Sean Coughlan, BBC News, 11 July]

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Graduation by Grade Is a Relic of a Bygone Trinity

Posted in Governance and administration on May 14th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Several times a year, Front Square becomes a flurry of black robes, airborne hats and camera flashes as Trinity’s graduates celebrate receiving academic degrees. But for many, as the Irish Times discussed this week, the ceremony is not the day of unbridled delight that it should be. The practice of separating graduands into academic brackets – revealing the relative standing of each in terms of their grades – is self-evidently a misguided and antiquated way to run a graduation ceremony …” (more)

[University Times, 13 May]

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Is it time to change Trinity’s ‘horrendous’ graduation ceremony?

Posted in Governance and administration on May 10th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Trinity College Dublin’s graduation ceremonies are steeped in cherished tradition: the Latin ceremony, the front square procession and the strict black or white dress code. But one particular tradition is attracting criticism and, for some, turning graduating into a day of ‘dread’ or even ‘humiliation’ …” (more)

[Barry O’Rourke, Irish Times, 9 May]

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Universities to be fined for handing out too many top degrees, education secretary threatens

Posted in Teaching on March 24th, 2019 by steve

“Universities will be fined if they hand out too many first and 2:1 degrees to be fair to ‘hard-working students’, the education secretary is threatening. Damian Hinds said a big leap in the two top awards – to 78% of degrees, up from 67% at the start of the decade – amounted to ‘grade inflation’, rather than rising standards alone … ” (more)

[Rob Merrick, Independent, 24 March]

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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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