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Scrap degree classifications in favour of rankings. watch

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    I don't think that university courses are similar enough to allow such a direct comparison.
    for example, ranking job candidates would produce the same problem: Is person X in top 20 better than person Y in top 60 from another uni. You can't tell but it does give the employer a better understanding of people within one uni, especially if they regularly recruit from there.

    I'm pretty sure most north american uni's have this kind of system: The ranking list of everyone in the course is posted/ printed out and stuck on a wall and employers can request to see it (from which scholarships and things are awarded to the highest ranked person etc). GPA scores directly correspond to percentages so you could in theory rank everyone by that too if you wanted. The students and staff generally hate the GPA system because it is wrongly used to rank graduates. Personally I think our system is better as everyone has their own extracurricular stuff going on and so some people devote different amounts of time and effort to uni work- meaning a grade may or may not accurately represent someones abilities that accurately so chunkier banding is more appropriate in determining how competent in a subject they are.
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    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    In light of a recent thread, I'd like to propose that we scrap degree classifications in favour of rankings.

    Someone who has just missed out on a 2.1, ending up with a very high 2.2 from Cambridge, will have worked much harder than someone who just about scraped a 2.1 from London Met.

    However, the Cambridge student would be filtered out by employers due to this absurd obsession with "2.1 or above".

    It's unfair to filter by 2.1 degrees when some universities so blatantly abuse the system via grade inflation.

    Degree classification abuse
    Look at the LSE. They awarded half of their BSc Economics students, that's 50%, first class honours degrees.

    Cambridge, on the other hand, awarded just 29% of their Economists a first, and UCL a mere 17%.

    You have to question the system:
    LSE economics students are not better than Cambridge students - they on average perform worse at A-level (Unistats). Given that Cambridge takes on 90% of its offer holders, and LSE on the other hand loses lots of its offer holders to Oxbridge, it's clear that Cambridge first-years are on average of a higher calibre on paper (and if you don't want to go by paper scores alone.. Cambridge interview, LSE don't).

    Even if you were to propose that LSE's students were stronger than Cambridge's, and that LSE's teaching was superior to Cambridge's (which I wouldn't believe for a second) there's no way that they are almost *twice* 29% vs. 50%) as good.

    Instead, I propose a simple ranking - you can't tweak a ranking. Making an exam easier will mean that more of your students get a 2.1, but it won't mean that more of your students are ranked in the top 40%, as that proportion is fixed.

    LSE could not, however hard they tried, have 100 students ranked in the top 10.

    This makes comparison a whole lot easier:

    Economics - University of Cambridge - Upper Second Class
    Economics - London School of Economics - First Class

    BA Economics - University of Cambridge - Ranked 70/200
    BSc Economics - London School of Economics - Ranked 90/200

    The ranking would be out of the students in your year on the same degree course, so you could add "in the year for BSc Economics" for clarity.

    Which of the two is the most clear, given that it's the *same* two students in each case?

    Example of employer bias
    Only last year I spoke to an employer at a Magic Circle law firm about degree classifications, and he bluntly replied that a 2.1 from Liverpool would be superior to a 2.2 from Cambridge, that the Cambridge 2.2 would be all but ruled out.

    Now, I think it's ridiculous that 1% in exams at completely different universities (the Liverpool grad could have just scraped the 2.1, and the Cambridge grad just missed it) can lead to such an enormous influence on job prospects.


    The change would eliminate grade inflation/deflation, and allow for more flexibility with employers rather than tarring 40% of the year with the same '1st' brush.

    TDLR: Instead of "BSc Economics First Class Honours, LSE, 2005",
    have "BSc Economics LSE, 2005, 30th highest score out of 200 students graduating on that course"

    Why does studying at cambridge imply you had a herder course? what parameters did you use to reach this conclusion?
    Just because Uxbridge is harder to get into and is a much more prestigious uni does not mean it's better. Look at this scenario the other way round what if there's a pupil who deserved a 2.1 at the less prestigious uni, meanwhile someone who got into oxbridge (this is taking into account how hard it is to get into oxbridge and how clever you have to be to get in) who should be getting a first gets a 2.2 If i was an employer i know who i'd employ. How about if Oxbridges teaching sucked compared to the lesser uni.

    Just saying im not some guy who's hates oxbridge or someone who has a vendetta against them just stating the other side of the argument as most people just believe that a 2.2 at oxbridge is better than a 2.1 at a lesser uni.

    All in all my point is IMO i'd rather hire someone who get 3 B's at A-LEVEL and managed to get a first or 2.1, Then someone who has 3 A*-A and got a 2.2.
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    apprantly UCL are running a trial of the american grade system

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    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/white-paper/transforming-education
    Degree classification
    The standard UK model of academic classification of degrees into classes of honours is no longer capable of providing the information that students deserve and employers require. Across the UK, award inflation over the past three decades has led to student performance being essentially recognised by classification into only two main groups: first class and upper second class honours. Even with transcripts now being readily available, this is a crude and undistinguishing model, which fails to recognise the range and variety of individual performance. It does not provide a basis for the international comparability of performance needed for a global university.

    We believe that the new approach to undergraduate education in England demands a more sophisticated approach to providing transparent information about university performance. UCL has been a pioneer already in piloting the HEAR system (Higher
    Education Achievement Record), which is intended to provide more detailed information about a student’s learning and achievement beyond the traditional degree classification system. This provides a profile of non-academic skills development and
    other achievements, such as leadership of clubs and societies and volunteering.

    We will now develop the HEAR into a universal system of recording student achievement with effect from 2012–13.

    We will also pilot – and, if successful, adopt – a new approach to reporting academic achievement through developing for UCL a Grade Point Average (GPA) model equivalent to the standard US approach to degree performance classification. The US model uses a system of letter grades of A, B, C, D and F. Each has a numerical multiplier, and they are averaged to generate a score for each student. It is common for the GPA to be coupled to an honours system, in some versions with a fixed percentage falling into each category. For example, in each programme, summa *** laude honours might go to the top 5% of the class; magna *** laude to the next 10%; and *** laude to the next 15% of the class.

    UCL will wish to develop its own approach: a UCL GPA system will be distinctive, and will be developed in such as way as to enable the GPA score for each student to be generated automatically from existing percentage-based assessment scores.


    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=1906434

    your ranking suggestion is odd how will it compare future and previous years?
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    I support this idea, but for all qualifications. Have a percentile (rankings would probably make things too messy) compared to everyone else who is doing that qualification at that time. Back when I did A Level, you could get 20% more than someone else yet still both receive an A. Worse still, at university you could do 30% better and still be awarded firsts.

    That done, it is then up to employers to decide how much better one university's degree is than another, and perhaps apply a handicap to candidates who have studied an 'inferior' or otherwise less desired course. As is, they don't have much wriggle room since if they believe one course is 5% better than another, they can't boost the score of someone who studied the more desired course by the right amount since the degree classifications are too wide.
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    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    Indeed, this is the main issue. I suppose it would be easier for employers to recognise, though, that when it comes down to someone who came #9 one year vs. someone else who came #3 another year, the difference is negligible.

    Intelligent employers would allow a few places to compensate for variance, especially at the top end.
    Then why don't intelligent employers allow a few 2:2's to pass the filter? Because excluding 2:2's isn't about merit, it's about making the HR people's job easier by reducing the candidate pool. Employers would still make up a blanket cut-off ranking and that would be that.

    It would also increase the rate of competition between students, you wouldn't see students forming study groups and you would see more hiding of books in the library. All in all, this means the quality of work submitted would fall. As places of learning, I'd argue that this would be counter to the ethos of universities.
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    (Original post by scrotgrot)
    Then why don't intelligent employers allow a few 2:2's to pass the filter? Because excluding 2:2's isn't about merit, it's about making the HR people's job easier by reducing the candidate pool. Employers would still make up a blanket cut-off ranking and that would be that.

    It would also increase the rate of competition between students, you wouldn't see students forming study groups and you would see more hiding of books in the library. All in all, this means the quality of work submitted would fall. As places of learning, I'd argue that this would be counter to the ethos of universities.
    Why would it increase competition/reduce cooperation? In a free for all, say of 100 people, if five people decide to band together and no one else does, then the top five will be those who decided to club together. Plus, universities already pit the year group against each other when grading.
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    (Original post by scrotgrot)
    Then why don't intelligent employers allow a few 2:2's to pass the filter? Because excluding 2:2's isn't about merit, it's about making the HR people's job easier by reducing the candidate pool. Employers would still make up a blanket cut-off ranking and that would be that.

    It would also increase the rate of competition between students, you wouldn't see students forming study groups and you would see more hiding of books in the library. All in all, this means the quality of work submitted would fall. As places of learning, I'd argue that this would be counter to the ethos of universities.
    I think there are a lots of pros and cons to the general idea proposed by the OP - but one argument could be that while the increased competition means there's less cooperation between students, and so arguably the quality of work decreases, this could just as easily be countered by the fact each student is probably more motivated to do well due to the increased competition and changed 'worth' of the degree classification system.

    If you're an LSE Economics student and easily in the top 40% of the cohort then you know you're going to get a first (quite frankly the fact 50% of them end up with a first is quite ridiculous) there's not much motivation to push yourself from being in the top 30% to the top 10% (which, frankly, is much more difficult to do than pushing yourself from the top 50% to the top 30%) if you're all going to end up with the same degree classification in the end anyway.
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    (Original post by swelshie)
    I'm pretty sure most north american uni's have this kind of system: The ranking list of everyone in the course is posted/ printed out and stuck on a wall and employers can request to see it (from which scholarships and things are awarded to the highest ranked person etc). GPA scores directly correspond to percentages so you could in theory rank everyone by that too if you wanted. The students and staff generally hate the GPA system because it is wrongly used to rank graduates. Personally I think our system is better as everyone has their own extracurricular stuff going on and so some people devote different amounts of time and effort to uni work- meaning a grade may or may not accurately represent someones abilities that accurately so chunkier banding is more appropriate in determining how competent in a subject they are.
    The vast majority of Americans study in their own state. Most employers never need to think about the quality of students from weird and wonderful places. They never turn up at the employer's door.
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    I'm not really sure about this. Obviously the current classification scheme isn't perfect, but I'm not sure that it's sufficiently broken for this to be a better alternative. The method you propose would make me look really good, but I don't think it's feasible.

    For a start, it's too vague and depends too much on the quality of the cohort and not enough on the quality of the individual student. Imagine student #51/100 in 2012 gets 60%. #50/100 in 2013 gets 53%. Assume the same course otherwise. It's entirely possible for that to happen, but #51 in 2012 is probably a stronger candidate than #50 in 2013. The same argument between universities, there's really nothing to say that Cambridge might have the most naturally-talented group in 2012, and LSE has the better group in 2013, and maybe Imperial in 2014. It gets even more messy further down the tables. A Level grades aren't a good enough measure of how talented someone is. Unless you can assess the natural talent within each group, relative position within a cohort is meaningless.

    There's also the assumption that employers have any chance of assessing the quality of every university, and how difficult each course is. They don't. Even proper academic researchers can't do that now. League tables are packed with manipulated nonsense for the most part and subject tables aren't specific enough, nor are they accurate in saying how difficult a course actually is. Position within a cohort says nothing about the individual. At all. It's a one-dimensional statistic trying to represent a hundred variables.

    Although the grade cut-off points are quite arbitrary, employers need some sort of quick cut-off point to filter applications. The vast majority simply do not have the time to sit studying numbers like these, and considering that most of them don't place too much importance in the institution you're at, I'm unsure how it would help those who feel they're somehow disadvantaged, other than disadvantaging others in their place with no good reason. The mechanisms they'd use with this system would be no less arbitrary than they are now. Who's to say with any certainty that 40% of students from a particular university, on a particular course (e.g. LSE, as you used in the example) don't deserve a first class degree on merit? Has anyone studied this sufficiently to give an answer that stands up to proper scrutiny (rather than relying on anecdotes)? I don't doubt that it's probably easier to get a first at some universities, but there's a difference between knowing that and actually proving that.

    Although I do agree that the current system isn't ideal, I don't think this is a solution. The only solution to really ensure that someone is absolutely treated fairly on merit is some kind of degree standardisation board.
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    Oh, it's this idiot again. The one who thinks Oxford and Cambridge are the only two universities in the UK that leave graduates employable.
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    A more straightforward way of doing this would be to require that universities position their students in the cohort and make it standard practice that this information appear on CVs and be required in applications.

    Perhaps the form could be: Institution/subject/degree classification/ + (position in cohort-cohort size).

    So

    John Smith - University of Cambridge/Economics/2.1 (32nd of 90)
    Peter Brown - London School of Economics/Economics/1st (32nd of 90)
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    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    A more straightforward way of doing this would be to require that universities position their students in the cohort and make it standard practice that this information appear on CVs and be required in applications.

    Perhaps the form could be: Institution/subject/degree classification/ + (position in cohort-cohort size).

    So

    John Smith - University of Cambridge/Economics/2.1 (32nd of 90)
    Peter Brown - London School of Economics/Economics/1st (32nd of 90)
    But what do you do about:-

    Jane Jones-University of East Grinstead/Economics with modern dance/2:1 (2nd out of 90)

    or more precisely what do you tell your HR person to filter on?
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    But what do you do about:-

    Jane Jones-University of East Grinstead/Economics with modern dance/2:1 (2nd out of 90)

    or more precisely what do you tell your HR person to filter on?
    The point here, surely, was for sorting in instances where the HR people's perception is of broad equivalence between two institutions but where the decision to study at one rather than the other might have affected degree classification.

    A Cambridge 2.1 or an LSE 1st? How about a Cambridge 60th percentile or an LSE 60th percentile placing? It at least makes decision making here a bit more fine-grained. It might as well discourage universities from letting it become known that they issue classifications comparatively generously, this to attract more and better applicants, since there'll be less advantage attaching to it.

    You know the graduates of Nottingham Law would be glad of it.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    But what do you do about:-

    Jane Jones-University of East Grinstead/Economics with modern dance/2:1 (2nd out of 90)

    or more precisely what do you tell your HR person to filter on?
    At worst, it's no worse than what we have now. If you prefer the current system, you'd tell your HR person (using the OP's example) to hire someone in the top 29% from Cambridge, top 17% from UCL or top 50% from LSE.

    Clearly there's more potential here, in that you (if you agree that those benchmarks are accurate) can also see within the same degree course, a top 1% from a university is going to be better than a top 10% candidate. In addition, you can even compare percentiles across universities - if you believe top 29% Cambridge are the same as LSE's top 50% (i.e. LSE's top and 50th percentiles are equivalent to Cambridge's top and 29th percentiles respectively), then you can map percentiles to each other. The mapping wouldn't be linear, but wouldn't be too difficult as it'd likely just be (part of) a normal distribution. Of course, if you disagree with the percentiles being equivalent, say you thought Cambridge's top 29% was equivalent to LSE's top 40%, you could make your own mapping for that too. All this stuff is an optional extra though, so if you don't want to do it you can just stick to my first paragraph.
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    I reckon a bigger issue is the difference in grade/mark distribution between the arts and the sciences
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    There is a cohort of UK Universities proposing to switch to the GPA system - link.

    Regardless, 'ranking' does already happen in references - I've never written one where I haven't been asked to comment on how the candidate performed relative to their peers and the rest of the year group.
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    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    The point here, surely, was for sorting in instances where the HR people's perception is of broad equivalence between two institutions but where the decision to study at one rather than the other might have affected degree classification.

    A Cambridge 2.1 or an LSE 1st? How about a Cambridge 60th percentile or an LSE 60th percentile placing? It at least makes decision making here a bit more fine-grained. It might as well discourage universities from letting it become known that they issue classifications comparatively generously, this to attract more and better applicants, since there'll be less advantage attaching to it.

    You know the graduates of Nottingham Law would be glad of it.

    (Original post by Hopple)
    At worst, it's no worse than what we have now. If you prefer the current system, you'd tell your HR person (using the OP's example) to hire someone in the top 29% from Cambridge, top 17% from UCL or top 50% from LSE.

    Clearly there's more potential here, in that you (if you agree that those benchmarks are accurate) can also see within the same degree course, a top 1% from a university is going to be better than a top 10% candidate. In addition, you can even compare percentiles across universities - if you believe top 29% Cambridge are the same as LSE's top 50% (i.e. LSE's top and 50th percentiles are equivalent to Cambridge's top and 29th percentiles respectively), then you can map percentiles to each other. The mapping wouldn't be linear, but wouldn't be too difficult as it'd likely just be (part of) a normal distribution. Of course, if you disagree with the percentiles being equivalent, say you thought Cambridge's top 29% was equivalent to LSE's top 40%, you could make your own mapping for that too. All this stuff is an optional extra though, so if you don't want to do it you can just stick to my first paragraph.
    But my HR person is (a) far too busy and (b) read English so percentages make her break out in hives. She wants a simple rule.

    So do I tell her pick anyone in the top 30% of their class?
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    Not sure what is with this obsession over an Oxbridge 2.2 being a great degree - it isn't.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    But my HR person is (a) far too busy and (b) read English so percentages make her break out in hives. She wants a simple rule.

    So do I tell her pick anyone in the top 30% of their class?
    Simple answer to this is, you have a **** HR person/department, but you wouldn't be the only such company.

    Plus, you've just restated the problem with the current system. Employers wanting a "2:1 or better" from any university use that to reduce the number of candidates, but responsible employers are then left trying to guess what university is better, and if a first from one is better than a 2:1 from another, and so on. Look at the candidate's subject, university and degree ranking, and your data becomes a lot more accurate, allowing you to compare should you wish to. If something makes it easier for responsible employers to choose, then I'd support it - I don't think we should care if it makes things more difficult for employers who just go "Oh, a first! I don't care where you got it, you're hired!"
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    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
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    (Original post by Asklepios)
    This system will also have its problems because it is difficult to compare universities. For example, who is better, someone who is in the 90th percentile at LSE or someone who is 75th percentile at Cambridge.
    Well technically being the 90% percentile of LSE Econ is a 2.2 and 75% percentile of Camb Econ is 2.1

    Has anyone actually looked at the figures? Listed are the figures for Ox (E&M), Camb, LSE, Ucl, War (often grouped as comparable econ courses). Layout Uni, % 1st, %2.1 %2.2 %Lower

    Source: From UniStats

    Ox, 21, 77, 2, 0
    Camb, 29, 48, 21, 2
    LSE, 39, 42, 15, 3
    UCL, 17, 57, 21, 4
    War, 26, 53, 17, 4

    I’m not denying it’s not overinflated but at the end of the day as long as you get a 1st or 2.1 recruiters do not care. In terms of a ‘good degree honours’ (1st/2.1) LSE has 81% with Ox, Camb, UCL and War having 98, 77, 74, 79 which is very comparable.

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    Also the course at LSE is a lot more flexible than Camb (half of your degree is based on the modules you choose); it can be as hard or as easy as you want. You can take easy courses from outside the department and opt to take the less advanced micro and econometrics options. All possible reasons for high firsts.

    If you’re studying econ at LSE/Camb you’re prob looking to go into Inv banking. Someone with a 1st from Camb may not get in to ibanking but someone with a 2.1 from LSE may which some people on this website simply think doesn’t exist or happen. The uni and the grade only tick one box in terms of recruiting. The camb economist may not have good extra-curriculars or doesn’t interview well etc. A job isn’t an academic profession, good academics are assumed in top professions.


    In short: There’s too many man childs on this website who are naïve and think university on CVs act as some sort of top trumps. Also this whole Camb 1st > LSE 2.1 or Camb 2.1 > LSE 1st, LSE 1st > Camb 2.1 is completely meaningless as each one is still an impressive merit. Getting a 1st or 2.1 doesnt even matter that much
 
 
 
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