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    So one of the interesting things to come out of this thread was this comment by a Newcastle professor acting as an external moderator for Oxford:

    It is clear however that the material on which these students are being examined is at a higher level that the material on which students in my own institution of Newcastle
    are examined, and that the Oxford examiners are able to ask more searching questions on this material, and to expect students to reproduce theory and display understanding of detail at a higher level than it is possible to do with students from my own institution. Oxford students have studied more demanding material than students from many UK institutions. Their degree classifications fairly judge their success in learning that material, and in that sense the classifications are comparable with classifications used elsewhere, but in absolute terms they are certainly not always comparable, because candidates are being judged on quite a different level of material.
    It bears worth repeating - an independent external moderator has effectively said that comparing a 1st class from university X to a 1st class from university Y is like comparing apples to oranges. This is not an atypical comment either - moderators every year make similar remarks for the course in question.

    Also, this applies not just to Oxford but to every university in the UK. This report from the Sutton Trust says:

    A student in the graduate sample with average attainment at a university with an average UNIdiff value (e.g.Loughborough) has a ten per cent probability of obtaining a first class degree. By comparison a student with the same prior attainment at a university with a UNIdiff value of above 80 per cent (e.g. Bristol or Imperial College) has less than a five per cent probability of obtaining a first.

    It suggests that due to the large number of very able students competing for first class honours, it is more difficult to obtain this classification in highly selective universities than in less selective institutions.
    So that differences exist between universities is really not up for debate.

    Now here's what it translates into in real life. A family friend who applied for maths got an offer from both Imperial and UCL. He asked me which one he should choose as his firm, given that he wants to work in the City afterwards. I was caught in a bit of a dilemma because I know the course at Imperial is far more rigorous than the one at UCL - at Imperial, around 40% of people get a 2.2 or less in maths. A 2.2 would close every door in his face come employment seeking time. However, because UCL and Imperial are both 'prestigious', he would have an equal chance with a 2.1 from either institution.

    So the advice I want to give - that Imperial is the better university for the course, with more rigour and depth - has to be tempered with meta-analysing the relative chances of obtaining a 2.2, which is just ridiculous.

    The question then is: should the government be standardising degree classifications in some way so that they are better comparable, and capable students don't get penalised for studying at more demanding institutions?
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    No, for several reasons.

    Firstly, standardised courses wouldn't allow different universities to include topics and areas from the research that their departments do into their undergraduate courses. Lots of prospective students base their decisions quite heavily on the course content of different universities, and standardising courses would mean that many students are studying courses with a greater amount of content that doesn't appeal to them, or will be less useful to them. I definitely know this applies to me, as the course content was one of the key factors in my university choice and this has served me well, with the content of these unique modules coming up in many of the job interviews I attended. A completely standardised course wouldn't have served my needs as well.

    Secondly, employers don't exist to reward people for academic achievement in their late teens and early twenties. You are unhappy that (some) employers would consider an applicant who got a higher mark in an easier course over one that got a lower mark in a more difficult course and are calling for the government to intervene. Surely if employers cared all that much then they wouldn't be auto-filtering out 2:2s regardless of institution?

    It's also worth noting that, generally, higher ranking institutions do give out more good honours (defined as a 2:1 or greater) than lower ranking ones. The CUG used to have a column showing the good honours rate, but disappointingly it no longer seems to be there. Your example about how 40% of Imperial maths graduates seems to contradict what Unistats says, unless I'm looking at the wrong course, which is a possibility as I don't know anything about maths degrees.

    This is a non-existent problem outside of TSR.
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    (Original post by ClickItBack)
    The question then is: should the government be standardising degree classifications in some way so that they are better comparable, and capable students don't get penalised for studying at more demanding institutions?
    Please tell me how one is supposed to compare a degree in dance studies with one in mathematics?

    However perhaps more to the point is that the fact that employers do not subscribe to 17 year olds' opinions of minor variations in perceived university prestige ought to tell you something about how little importance it bears.
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    (Original post by Smack)
    Secondly, employers don't exist to reward people for academic achievement in their late teens and early twenties. You are unhappy that (some) employers would consider an applicant who got a higher mark in an easier course over one that got a lower mark in a more difficult course and are calling for the government to intervene. Surely if employers cared all that much then they wouldn't be auto-filtering out 2:2s regardless of institution?
    But the fact that they are auto-filtering out 2.2s regardless of institution only increases the need for more regulation. If you read the Sutton Trust report in the first post in this thread, it indicates that getting certain classifications is more difficult at some universities compared to others.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    But the fact that they are auto-filtering out 2.2s regardless of institution only increases the need for more regulation.
    Why?

    If you read the Sutton Trust report in the first post in this thread, it indicates that getting certain classifications is more difficult at some universities compared to others.
    I haven't read the whole report, but the quote highlighted in the OP is exclusively referring to firsts. Overall the higher ranking universities award a greater percentage of good honours compared to the lower ones, although there are anomalies when it comes to first class honours (e.g. I looked into the maths example that the OP has given and UCL awarded over half of the cohort firsts [and overall 90% of the cohort a 2:1 i.e. "good honours" whereas Imperial were a lot more strict).
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    (Original post by Smack)
    Why?
    Because someone who got a 2.2 at Imperial might have got a 2.1 at Loughborough (using the universities from the report).

    I haven't read the whole report, but the quote highlighted in the OP is exclusively referring to firsts. Overall the higher ranking universities award a greater percentage of good honours compared to the lower ones, although there are anomalies when it comes to first class honours (e.g. I looked into the maths example that the OP has given and UCL awarded over half of the cohort firsts [and overall 90% of the cohort a 2:1 i.e. "good honours" whereas Imperial were a lot more strict).
    I'm not convinced you've understood the highlighted part. The fact that higher ranking universities award more firsts doesn't really say much, because for a student of a "given ability", it's still harder to get a first at the universities with higher entrance requirements, despite them giving out a greater proportion of firsts overall. (Also, if it's true for Firsts, it's probably true for other classifications as well.)
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    Because someone who got a 2.2 at Imperial might have got a 2.1 at Loughborough (using the universities from the report).
    So?

    I'm not convinced you've understood the highlighted part. The fact that higher ranking universities award more firsts doesn't really say much, because for a student of a "given ability", it's still harder to get a first at the universities with higher entrance requirements, despite them giving out a greater proportion of firsts overall. (Also, if it's true for Firsts, it's probably true for other classifications as well.)
    The highlighted section refers to firsts only, I am talking about good honours as a whole (i.e. 2:1s and above), since this discussion is framed in the context of mainstream employers who by and large do not put any extra preference on applicants with 1sts.
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    (Original post by Smack)
    So?
    So, that isn't fair, because they'll be filtered out if they got below a 2.2, whereas that same student may have got a 2.1 at a different university.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    So, that isn't fair, because they'll be filtered out if they got below a 2.2, whereas that same student may have got a 2.1 at a different university.
    Which should tell you all you need to know about how much of a damn said employers give about the relative difficulty of degrees between institutions.
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    (Original post by Smack)
    Which should tell you all you need to know about how much of a damn said employers give about the relative difficulty of degrees between institutions.
    I agree - they don't care. But that's entirely my point - their "not caring" isn't fair on the students. However, if degrees were standardised better, then that would remove the need for employers to care, since comparability between institutions would be assured.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    I agree - they don't care. But that's entirely my point - their "not caring" isn't fair on the students. However, if degrees were standardised better, then that would remove the need for employers to care, since comparability between institutions would be assured.
    You seem to be under the impression that employers are there to reward academic success. This is a popular train of thought on TSR among the 17 year olds but it isn't actually the case at all. You're not any more entitled to a job because you have attended one university over another - and if you (using your example) went to Imperial and got a 2:2 and retroactively believe that you would have achieved a 2:1 at Loughborough, and are getting rejected from jobs, then that's your fault.
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    (Original post by Smack)
    No, for several reasons.

    Firstly, standardised courses wouldn't allow different universities to include topics and areas from the research that their departments do into their undergraduate courses. Lots of prospective students base their decisions quite heavily on the course content of different universities, and standardising courses would mean that many students are studying courses with a greater amount of content that doesn't appeal to them, or will be less useful to them. I definitely know this applies to me, as the course content was one of the key factors in my university choice and this has served me well, with the content of these unique modules coming up in many of the job interviews I attended. A completely standardised course wouldn't have served my needs as well.
    I absolutely agree that standardization would not be a good idea, since universities should be able to differentiate the one from the other also based on course content...

    That being said I absolutely agree that the level should be standardized... Meaning that you can ask people to read different amounts of literature in the specific field, you can also decide what that literature is, but (for instance) the level of the materials and of the exams should be appropriate for level of study. But this should be responsibility of departments (also based on opinions of external examiners) to control this...

    Also keep in mind that anyways potential employers will - most of the times - evaluate differently people coming from different universities... And they will also look at the overall profile of the candidate (not just the BA/BSc grade)!
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    (Original post by Smack)
    You seem to be under the impression that employers are there to reward academic success. This is a popular train of thought on TSR among the 17 year olds but it isn't actually the case at all.
    The fact that employers reject below a 2.1 shows that they are interested in your academic performance, although the purpose of an employer is not to reward academic success. If they are comparing academic performance between people from different universities, then I think it's important that this comparison is a fair one.

    You're not any more entitled to a job because you have attended one university over another - and if you (using your example) went to Imperial and got a 2:2 and retroactively believe that you would have achieved a 2:1 at Loughborough, and are getting rejected from jobs, then that's your fault.
    I wouldn't say getting rejected due to an unfair system is someone's own fault. Given that the Sutton Trust report suggests that degrees can vary in how difficult it is to get certain classification, I don't see how you say it's someone's "fault" that they chose a harder university - how could they have accurately predicted that in advance?
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    In my experience from looking for placements, employers really don't seem to care much about academia.

    Some placements (for me) are just asking that I have a predicted 2:1 or better in an engineering subject. Sometimes they just say "appropriate subject". They might also list the subjects they approve of, and there's typically half a dozen of them.

    They're really not that picky about it. I've never seen them ask that I went to a particular university or to prove my accreditation status, they just want a 2:1 or sometimes 2:2 in that general area of study. They really don't care that I don't go to Oxbridge or a top-10 university. Mine isn't even RG, and they're just not fussed. They just want a grade and probably use the rest as an indicator when it comes to two equal students from different institutions. Above all else, my course is accredited so I will learn the essentials that they're after anyway.


    Perhaps the question should be why people choose to go to the elite of the elite universities if they feel they're going to be disadvantaged in the job market? I know it sounds idiotic at first glance, but it's a well known within engineering that grades are usually more important than institution. A 2:1 or First from some top-50 uni is going to put you higher up the pile of applications than someone with a 2:2 or Third from a top-10 uni. From there, it's about the presentation of the application and their ability to fit in with the company (covering letters, technical knowledge, stuff which can't be taught).
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    The fact that employers reject below a 2.1 shows that they are interested in your academic performance, although the purpose of an employer is not to reward academic success. If they are comparing academic performance between people from different universities, then I think it's important that this comparison is a fair one.
    Many of the largest graduate employers that receive many dozens of applications for each post automatically filter out applicants who achieved less than a 2:1 degree to make the recruitment process more manageable. Nothing more.

    I wouldn't say getting rejected due to an unfair system is someone's own fault. Given that the Sutton Trust report suggests that degrees can vary in how difficult it is to get certain classification, I don't see how you say it's someone's "fault" that they chose a harder university - how could they have accurately predicted that in advance?
    It's not an "unfair" system because it's not designed to reward people for being academically successful or for choosing certain universities.
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    Some people seem to have come into this thread with preexisting notions on what it's going to be about, and completely misconstrue the point of the thread. A detailed read of the OP would help.

    (Original post by Smack)
    Why?

    I haven't read the whole report, but the quote highlighted in the OP is exclusively referring to firsts. Overall the higher ranking universities award a greater percentage of good honours compared to the lower ones, although there are anomalies when it comes to first class honours (e.g. I looked into the maths example that the OP has given and UCL awarded over half of the cohort firsts [and overall 90% of the cohort a 2:1 i.e. "good honours" whereas Imperial were a lot more strict).
    OK, let's take the unistats numbers at face value. At Imperial, 27% of the cohort gets a 2.2 or worse. At UCL, this number is 10%.

    Please stop saying 'employers are not there to reward academic performance', and answer this point alone: is it fair that for similarly able candidates (in fact, the entering batch at Imperial is generally significantly better) that you are three times more likely to get a degree that will terribly impair your employment chances at Imperial than at UCL?
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    (Original post by ClickItBack)
    Please stop saying 'employers are not there to reward academic performance'
    Why? It's fundamental to this thread...
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    But are the statistics on graduate employment backing this? I mean, if there is a problem, we should see UCL having significantly higher rates of graduate placement if compered to Imperial... Does this happen?
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    (Original post by SillyEddy)
    Perhaps the question should be why people choose to go to the elite of the elite universities if they feel they're going to be disadvantaged in the job market? I know it sounds idiotic at first glance, but it's a well known within engineering that grades are usually more important than institution. A 2:1 or First from some top-50 uni is going to put you higher up the pile of applications than someone with a 2:2 or Third from a top-10 uni. From there, it's about the presentation of the application and their ability to fit in with the company (covering letters, technical knowledge, stuff which can't be taught).
    You are right quite right in that bolded sentence. As for why students choose to go to the elite universities despite a higher chance of disadvantage, I think very few are aware at the time of A Levels/UCAS apps that there these discrepancies exist.

    I certainly don't think it's a solution to say 'well they should have gone to an easier university then'. Well, it is a prosaic solution, but I just don't think we should have A Level students getting entry into their dream university, then having to consider the numbers game because different institutions aren't comparable.
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    (Original post by polscistudent88)
    But are the statistics on graduate employment backing this? I mean, if there is a problem, we should see UCL having significantly higher rates of graduate placement if compered to Imperial... Does this happen?
    Looking at the stats for the MSci in maths from Imperial and UCL, a greater amount of Imperial grads were in employment, with a higher average starting salary, and fewer were unemployed.

    So as I said in my original post, this is a non-existent problem outside of TSR.
 
 
 
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