Firstly, people 20 years ago were not immensely more stupid than people these days (eaven though some here like to think that about their parents). Thus when universities have dramatically increased their demands on intake (Imperial has gone from requireing BB to AAB for Physics study as an example) and as the proportion of students achieving top scores has increased greatly, one must only conclude that the standrads have fallen. The question is if this is a problem. Should one try to expand the syllabus such that the level of the curriculum is equivalent to what it was 20 years ago, or is it more suitable to have a lower level on A levels, and instead move much of the syllabus up to graduate work?
The problem is the econemy has changed the UK is now a lot richer than it was 50 years ago and the job market now requires more graduates as its moved away from manual factory work to high tech service type jobs.
This has fueled a huge demand for university places which in term has mean't universities have had to increase their entry requirements. In the 1960's you could get into a decent medical school with as little as CCD simply because the demand wasn't that high. So even if exams are slightly easier for the grade in reality standards have not really fallen.
Have you got any real evidence to support is this though? It is funny nobody ever mentions the 50% if people who don't get 5 A*-Cs at GCSE so if it was that easy then everybody would be passing. The econemy is just different now people are more snobbish, there is plenty of jobs on the market if people get their hands dirty and I am sure having a degree won't make you over qualified.
University education is not simply about getting jobs this really only a recent thing. I agree that there are a lot of unemployed graduates but maybe there are too picky and have the attitude of I am too good to be a joiner or what ever.
If standards of A levels has sunk as much as people make out then take advantage of AEA, IB or something.
I wonder if there has been equivalent criticism in Scotland regarding their highers.
i am pretty certain that it isnt falling a level standards (by looking at past papers, they are similar bar slight syllabus changes) but a variety of other factors. for example, an increase in the range of subjects for example alevels in photography,dance,media studies means less academic students have the opportunity to get AAA. the widespread modular courses with unlimited retakes mean its easier to get the grade, as opposed to a single 2 hour exam. coursework makes up part of the grade, unlike in the past.
the main factor is probably the pressures on all young people in the 6th form to do well. nowadays uni is the 'in' thing to do after alevels. 30 years ago, hardly anyone went. so now there is social pressure to succeed and i think it is this making students work harder thanbefore, thus getting better grades
You also have to take into account that the quality of teaching has risen over the past 20yrs, as has the support given to students in terms of revision classes and technological aids to assist learning.
My mum said that the syllabus I have covered for my GCSE's is very similar to her 'O' levels. Many less academically able students take things like GNVQ's, and vocational qualifications, which means that a larger percentage of people now entering traditional type exams will be very capable, and will attain the higher grades.
There were plans to introduce an A* grade at A level however they were scraped after it realised it would make the gap between private and public schools even more obvious.
Since when are A-Level standards failing, IB boy?
The reason why there are so many people achieving top grades at A-Level then before is because the vast amount of people taking A-Level's! The more people that take them, the more people can choose wisely, ie. your not going to choose mathematics if you're not reasonably good at it. Before however, there was a limited choice of A-levels and of course a limited amount of people, meaning they were less likely to choose a subject they really could do fantastic at.
Of course, Film Studies, Sociology, Photography etc. allows people who may have not passed maths, chemistry and English literature pass because it's a fresh start. Oh and add to that, teaching standards too...
given that people are bound to be of the same average intelligence from year to year.
making A-level grades done in quotas would be good, so that it will not matter how easy the paper is, as long as people are sorted proportionally.
ie top 10% get A next 20% get B etc.
If that system were put in the statistics would show how much better private schools did compared to public ones which is something the government doesn't want so it's not going to happen