University first-class degrees soaring. Grade inflation? Watch

Poll: Why have university grades risen so sharply?
Students are more intelligent and work harder (27)
45%
Grade inflation. (33)
55%
999tigger
Badges: 19
#1
Report Thread starter 2 years ago
#1
The proportion of top degree grades being awarded by UK universities has soared - with some universities giving first-class degrees to more than a third of their students.
The University of Surrey awarded a first-class degree to 41% of students last year, more than doubling the proportion five years ago.
And firsts awarded at the University of East Anglia have almost trebled to 37%.
Professor of education Alan Smithers called it "chronic grade inflation".
Among the prestigious Russell Group of universities more than a quarter of students received a first-class degree.


The Press Association survey, analysing figures for 2015-16 from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), indicates it is now more common to graduate with a first-class degree than a lower second (2:2) grade - with 24% getting a first last year, compared with 21% getting a lower second. The most widely awarded degree was an upper second (2:1), received by about 51%.
  • 1994: 7% of graduates awarded first-class degrees
  • 2004: 11%
  • 2014: 19%
  • 2016: 24%


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40654933


Are students just more intelligent than 20 years ago or is it grade inflation?

I found the story quite eye opening.

PS imo Its a ridiculous situation
0
reply
pairofjeans
Badges: 9
Rep:
?
#2
Report 2 years ago
#2
The only way to completely fix any potential problem is basically grading the population bell curves. Similar to A levels. But the issue is that means every Uni would need to sit the same exam for a given course. Which isn't really possible right now.

And even then, the bell curve system can be a bit unfair. Like how is it your fault you weren't born on a particular year where most of your peers would find exam harder than usual? Plus, in theory it means there's only a limited number of top grades available. But despite it's disadvantages, it's still way better than we currently do imo. It's not like 90% of the country deserves a first anyway.

I'm aware that some classes already use bell curves for grade boundaries. But imo a sample size of 20-300 isn't enough. You need to be talking 100000+ to make it accurate.
1
reply
nulli tertius
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#3
Report 2 years ago
#3
(Original post by Mathemagicien)
It is in the interests of students to select a Uni where they are most likely to get a First, excepting of course Oxbridge and Imperial, where 2:1s are probably more valuable than Firsts from most other Unis.

It is in the interests of Unis to attract lots of students.

Free market innit
Oxbridge is not immune. Oxford first divided its second class degree in 1986. These are the figures from 1990. Look at the proportions of 2:2s, 3rds and worse.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/media/global/ww...hools-1990.pdf
0
reply
Doones
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#4
Report 2 years ago
#4
(Original post by nulli tertius)
Oxbridge is not immune. Oxford first divided its second class degree in 1986. These are the figures from 1990. Look at the proportions of 2:2s, 3rds and worse.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/media/global/ww...hools-1990.pdf
I just happen to have this on hand...

Cambridge - Firsts and 2:1s
Name:  Tripos Firsts  since 1963.jpg
Views: 452
Size:  124.5 KB
1
reply
PQ
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#5
Report 2 years ago
#5
There is an element of students changing their behaviour.

The message given to students more and more is that they need "more" than a 2:1 to succeed in the graduate market. There's a real incentive to students to try to bump up a classification if they can with more focus on getting a first to "get ahead".

There's also pressure from places other than league tables on universities. External examiners often comment on whether a university is harsher than expected in giving out higher degree classifications, notched marking has become much more prevalent in the sector (alongside removal of vivas for borderline classifications) which means it's less likely for students to "miss out" on a first and most importantly the funding council and the government have a HUGE emphasis on "learning gain" and "value added" http://www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/lg/ - with the strong message that learning gain metrics will be introduced to the TEF.

Grade inflation is the description of the result not the underlying cause for the change.
0
reply
Doones
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#6
Report 2 years ago
#6
(Original post by Mathemagicien)
But more seriously, I'm suprirsed that only 50% of Tabs get a 2:1 or above, given that the national average is 75%.
Add the Firsts and 2:1s together

Posted from TSR Mobile
0
reply
Reality Check
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#7
Report 2 years ago
#7
(Original post by Mathemagicien)
I know, but I was saying that a student would usually prefer the University from whom he is most likely to get a First; but that Oxbridge and Imperial are prestigious enough for students to largely disregard that (since most employers probably value degrees from Oibridge more).



Naturally, the thing to take away from this is that they are clearly much smarter than our supervisors on average.
A reason for colleges to stop using budget PhD supervisors for their undergrads, I think. (tongue in cheek - some of my best supervisors were PhD candidates)
0
reply
Reality Check
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#8
Report 2 years ago
#8
(Original post by PQ)
There is an element of students changing their behaviour.

The message given to students more and more is that they need "more" than a 2:1 to succeed in the graduate market. There's a real incentive to students to try to bump up a classification if they can with more focus on getting a first to "get ahead".

There's also pressure from places other than league tables on universities. External examiners often comment on whether a university is harsher than expected in giving out higher degree classifications, notched marking has become much more prevalent in the sector (alongside removal of vivas for borderline classifications) which means it's less likely for students to "miss out" on a first and most importantly the funding council and the government have a HUGE emphasis on "learning gain" and "value added" http://www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/lg/ - with the strong message that learning gain metrics will be introduced to the TEF.

Grade inflation is the description of the result not the underlying cause for the change.
PRSOM.

Just look at the number of threads in the past few weeks where finalists have asked 'I got 69.5% overall - can I be bumped up to a first'. And inevitably, they are.
0
reply
Moonstruck16
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#9
Report 2 years ago
#9
(Original post by Reality Check)
A reason for colleges to stop using budget PhD supervisors for their undergrads, I think. (tongue in cheek - some of my best supervisors were PhD candidates)
I think the should at least be able to speak clearly in English.

Posted from TSR Mobile
2
reply
Moura
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#10
Report 2 years ago
#10
(Original post by 999tigger)
The proportion of top degree grades being awarded by UK universities has soared - with some universities giving first-class degrees to more than a third of their students.
The University of Surrey awarded a first-class degree to 41% of students last year, more than doubling the proportion five years ago.
And firsts awarded at the University of East Anglia have almost trebled to 37%.
Professor of education Alan Smithers called it "chronic grade inflation".
Among the prestigious Russell Group of universities more than a quarter of students received a first-class degree.


The Press Association survey, analysing figures for 2015-16 from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), indicates it is now more common to graduate with a first-class degree than a lower second (2:2) grade - with 24% getting a first last year, compared with 21% getting a lower second. The most widely awarded degree was an upper second (2:1), received by about 51%.
  • 1994: 7% of graduates awarded first-class degrees
  • 2004: 11%
  • 2014: 19%
  • 2016: 24%


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40654933


Are students just more intelligent than 20 years ago or is it grade inflation?

I found the story quite eye opening.

PS imo Its a ridiculous situation
I think it depends on the course. Some courses are easier to get a 1st in (despite being very hard subjects), others are just easier courses... there are probably more easier courses and more people doing them than there was in the past...
0
reply
Reality Check
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#11
Report 2 years ago
#11
(Original post by Moonstruck16)
I think the should at least be able to speak clearly in English.

Posted from TSR Mobile
I was supervised in a pair for QB and I don't think either of us understood a word he said throughout Michaelmas. The problem sheets were always OK though, so that was the main thing :lol:
0
reply
.A_C.
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#12
Report 2 years ago
#12
Great, now 1st class degrees mean nothing.

What's next?

Graduates need to do a PhD to get anywhere? (and I've heard the no of PhD's being awarded are increasing too).

We need a drastic change to the way Universities are managed. Too many people are going, too many people feel like they have to go to be successful, when that is absolutely the wrong way to look at life.

And people think it's acceptable to suggest free fees? Next thing everyone will have a degree and it will be a requirement to have tertiary education to get a job that pays £7.50 an hour.

I think giving fees for free would be an absolute disaster for getting people into work, it would just be a never ending cycle of people being stuck in academia for around half a decade. Competition would go through the roof.
3
reply
PQ
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#13
Report 2 years ago
#13
(Original post by Reality Check)
PRSOM.

Just look at the number of threads in the past few weeks where finalists have asked 'I got 69.5% overall - can I be bumped up to a first'. And inevitably, they are.
And "I have 66% for second year what do I need in third year to get a first"

Those threads on TSR have increased substantially over the last few years.

I've also been in workshops about retention/learning gain where academics proposed identifying students at the end of each year who are on the boundaries of a degree classification and offering them additional targeted support/tuition to help them bump up comfortably into the next classification.
0
reply
Reality Check
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#14
Report 2 years ago
#14
(Original post by PQ)
And "I have 66% for second year what do I need in third year to get a first"

Those threads on TSR have increased substantially over the last few years.
Yes, I've noticed a lot of these. The struggle with basic arithmetic sometimes tempts me into saying they shouldn't get a first on principle. But I resist, because I am warm and cuddly.


I've also been in workshops about retention/learning gain where academics proposed identifying students at the end of each year who are on the boundaries of a degree classification and offering them additional targeted support/tuition to help them bump up comfortably into the next classification.
Interesting. This puts me in mind of the 'gifted and talented' concept at secondary. Does this sort of targeted support lead to claims of unfairness and an unequal distribution of contact time? Or does the fact that it's aimed at all boundaries, not just the I/2i mitigate this slightly?
0
reply
bobby147
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#15
Report 2 years ago
#15
Tertiary education is a business,what does one expect ?
1
reply
username775001
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#16
Report 2 years ago
#16
Tbf on my exchange the difference in difficulty was un real. the content was way harder and exams 3 hours but it was the grade boundaries which screw u over cos 50% was a D- 60% C- do to do well u gotta be hitting 80% plus
0
reply
BTAnonymous
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#17
Report 2 years ago
#17
Even if students do work harder, there still needs to be a fine line between the best (2:1) and the best of the best (1st). Therefore we need to continue to challenge students to continue advancing our education system so we can fluorish. Not challenging students in an environment where students are working harder will encourage them tpo become lazy. We don't want that in our workforce.
1
reply
Doones
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#18
Report 2 years ago
#18
(Original post by Reality Check)
But I resist, because I am warm and cuddly.
:toofunny:
0
reply
Reality Check
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#19
Report 2 years ago
#19
(Original post by Doonesbury)
:toofunny:
Not convincing?
0
reply
Moonstruck16
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#20
Report 2 years ago
#20
(Original post by BTAnonymous)
Even if students do work harder, there still needs to be a fine line between the best (2:1) and the best of the best (1st). Therefore we need to continue to challenge students to continue advancing our education system so we can fluorish. Not challenging students in an environment where students are working harder will encourage them tpo become lazy. We don't want that in our workforce.
I think our 'workforce' could do with graduates who actually have the skills and common sense to work in a job, not just the ability to get good grades. And old flatmate of mine graduated this year with a first from a university that isn't considered that high. He's international and went on a rant about how bad the British education system is and how thick his coursemates were and how easy it was to get firsts in anything. I mean first of all they seemed to let anyone on his course, but more importantly, he had the common sense of a gnat.

Posted from TSR Mobile
1
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts

All the exam results help you need

1,796

people online now

225,530

students helped last year
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

How are you feeling about GCSE Results Day?

Hopeful (214)
12.73%
Excited (151)
8.98%
Worried (303)
18.02%
Terrified (376)
22.37%
Meh (158)
9.4%
Confused (37)
2.2%
Putting on a brave face (230)
13.68%
Impatient (212)
12.61%

Watched Threads

View All