Turn on thread page Beta

Are Degree Grades Worth the Same? - Consistency and Dumbing Down watch

Announcements
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    From the BBC News website:


    Are degree grades worth the same?

    Oxford University
    Oxford or Oxford Brookes? How do the degrees compare?

    MPs investigating the safeguarding of standards in universities in England have reported their concern at a lack of consistency.

    And they complained that university leaders could not give a straightforward answer to comparing the relative worth of degrees.

    Among the questions pursued by the university select committee was how a degree from one university could be measured against a degree from another.

    If the degree grades and the subject were the same, did that mean that these qualifications were equivalent to one another?

    This is an important question for students as well as policymakers. If students pay for a course will it be valued as highly as the same course at another university?

    Mature students might not have a choice about where to study, so how will they know whether their local university is providing a degree course equivalent to other institutions?

    The committee's report quotes the evidence of Victoria Edwards, who said that mature students such as herself might not "have the option of applying to a prestigious university".

    STUDENT, VICTORIA EDWARDS

    "Anybody in my situation, if they are living in Newcastle or Stockport or wherever it is, and they have got their family there and children in schools there, you do not have a choice about which university you apply to, so you need to know that your 2:1 from that university is going to be exactly the same as far as employers are concerned.

    "There are lots of reasons why people choose their university and sometimes you do not have a choice."

    So the select committee of MPs asked the vice-chancellors of the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University to say whether an upper second class degree in history from the two universities were "equivalent".

    OXFORD BROOKES

    Janet Beer, vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes, said: "It depends what you mean by equivalent. I am sorry to quibble around the word but is it worth the same is a question that is weighted with too many social complexities.

    "In terms of the way in which quality and standards are managed in the university I have every confidence that a 2:1 in history from Oxford Brookes is of a nationally recognised standard."

    OXFORD UNIVERSITY

    The report quotes the reply of John Hood, vice-chancellor of Oxford University.

    "We teach in very different ways between the two institutions and I think our curricula are different between the two institutions, so the question really is are we applying a consistent standard in assessing our students as to firsts, 2:1s, 2:2s et cetera?

    "What I want to say in that respect is simply this, that we use external examiners to moderate our examination processes in all of our disciplinary areas at Oxford, and we take that external examination assessment very, very seriously.

    "The external examiners' reports after each round are submitted through our faculty boards, they are assessed and considered by the faculty boards, they are then assessed at the divisional board level and by the educational committee of the university.

    This is a process that goes on round the clock annually, so we would be comfortable that our degree classifications are satisfying an expectation of national norms."

    So are the two degrees equivalent?

    "We found these answers unclear," said the MPs.



    So for all the people who say that always say that it's the course that matters not the university are just plain wrong. I've argued this particular members of TSR and now a Commons Select Commitee reprot also seems to support my opinion.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    I don't think anyone would argue that a History degree from Brookes and one from Oxford were equal... Most people quibble over the difference between a degree say from UCL and one from Leeds, between which there is very little.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    I hate to admit it, but a first or a 2.1 from oxford is going to be more well regarded by employers than a first or a 2.1 from most other universities...
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    T. Hereford - could you please point out to me where it says that the standards are not equivalent? The only thing I could deduce was that the MPs are unsure (and I'm not convinced that their uncertainty equates to anything beyond the fact that they are unable to come to a decision).
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Having undertaken a quick Google search, the one thing I can see is that Oxford Brookes and Oxford collaborate a lot for various academic things. They had a joint Law school for postgraduate courses for many years, and participate in a lot of Psychology research/courses/joint postgraduate funding opportunities. There may be more (I'm too tired and idle to search further).

    http://www.psy.ox.ac.uk/aua/events

    http://www.brookes.ac.uk/schools/social/oxilp/

    If Oxford Brookes was really THAT bad, I doubt Oxford would get so involved with it.

    With regards to History (the subject under reference in the article), I seem to recall that Oxford Brookes has a particularly strong department, which has done well with regards to teaching and research assessments over the years. Their departmental website cites various interesting things (5* for the last RAE, and respectable A-level requirements at BBB).

    http://www.brookes.ac.uk/studying/co...e/2009/history

    Given this information, is there really a need to voice concern?
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Blooroo, Don't even try to compare Brookes to Oxford. No way.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    Hmm, every headline from my news alert on Vista becomes a thread on TSR within minutes..

    Anyway, the question was about university grades rather than whether the two degrees are seen as equal before an employer i.e should a 2:1 from Oxford still be seen as better than a first from Oxford Brookes in the same subject. I personally think it should be, and would imagine most people/employers would agree. It's quite an extreme example pitting one of the best universities in the world against an ex-poly though.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Smtn)
    Blooroo, Don't even try to compare Brookes to Oxford. No way.
    As yet, nobody has demonstrated the differences in this thread. Thinking about it, I'm almost certain that nobody on TSR will be able to demonstrate vast differences in quality - not you, not the OP, and not the MPs. This is partly the problem - the lack of quality assurance. To say that I can't compare Oxford to Oxford Brookes ironically flies in the face of the BBC article.

    Plus, I don't see what an Aston graduate has to say on the matter. Oxford Brookes and Aston are both obscure.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    Well this is one of the problems with how degrees are constituted. But would you like degrees to turn into fully standardised qualifications nationally like 'A' levels?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    I hate to say it, but a Brookes degree doesn't have **** on an Oxford degree. Fact.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by NDGAARONDI)
    Well this is one of the problems with how degrees are constituted. But would you like degrees to turn into fully standardised qualifications nationally like 'A' levels?
    This is another basic point mentioned - academic freedom allows for diverse degree topics. Different universities offer different degree specialisms. Given that an undergraduate degree is a limited degree, no single degree offers everything (and, quite frankly, no university employs specialists of all topics). As such, students have to choose what they want to study and how this shapes career pathways. For example, some universities offer adult disability nursing, others offer specialism in rehabilitation or palitative care. Whilst all nursing degrees will cover the same basics, the specialisms are what really matters (so my nursing friends tell me...)
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Blooroo)

    Plus, I don't see what an Aston graduate has to say on the matter. Oxford Brookes and Aston are both obscure.
    I'd actually agreed with everything else you'd said so far and thought you argued it well, but what is that supposed to mean? And what relevance does it have? :confused:
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by charlotterg5)
    I hate to say it, but a Brookes degree doesn't have **** on an Oxford degree. Fact.
    I see that you wish to study at Liverpool. Given that Oxford Brookes and Liverpool are practically side by side in the tables, would you agree that Liverpool doesn't have **** on Oxford. Fact? If not, then what other criteria would you use to compare Oxford Brookes and Liverpool? Clearly not teaching or research quality, student satisfaction or entry standards, completion rates and % of good honours awarded... what else is left for you to make your assertion?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by oo_Lucinda_oo)
    I'd actually agreed with everything else you'd said so far and thought you argued it well, but what is that supposed to mean? And what relevance does it have? :confused:
    It's a way of me turning things around, demarcating the universities and creating a new polemic. Where does Aston stand? Closer to Oxford or Oxford Brookes?
    Offline

    3
    It's an interesting question, and I think it seems that to some extent, the higher you climb with regards to higher education (i.e. bachelor's degree -> master's -> PhD) the less it starts to matter. However, I do think that in the case of the recruitment of young graduates (i.e. very early twenties in particular), the university from which the degree came can indicate several things- particularly aspirations, ability at the time of application (as it is accepted that 'passing' the interview stage at universities such as Oxbridge isn't easy), perceived potential etc. Although people can change rather dramatically in the 3/4 years a typical degree lasts, I guess it's similar in some ways to how universities look at GCSEs as well as A levels when you initially apply. Sometimes past performance can be quite telling too.
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Blooroo)
    It's a way of me turning things around, demarcating the universities and creating a new polemic. Where does Aston stand? Closer to Oxford or Oxford Brookes?
    Closer to Brookes, obviously. However I fail to see how that is at all relevant to his/her ability to make a point that Oxford and Oxford Brookes are at a very different level and therefore incomparable, whether that be correct or incorrect.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Blooroo)
    I see that you wish to study at Liverpool. Given that Oxford Brookes and Liverpool are practically side by side in the tables, would you agree that Liverpool doesn't have sh*t on Oxford. Fact? If not, then what other criteria would you use to compare Oxford Brookes and Liverpool? Clearly not teaching or research quality, student satisfaction or entry standards, completion rates and % of good honours awarded... what else is left for you to make your assertion?
    Would I agree that Liverpool doesn't have **** on Oxford? Yes. I'd be deluding myself not to; Oxford is the best university in the country. There's no way I'd get in there. Liverpool on the other hand is my hometown, and a pretty decent university so I'm more than happy to go there even though Oxford it ain't.

    With regards to comparing it to Oxford Brookes, I don't really know how the two compare. Doesn't really matter to me, tbf. I've made my decision
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Blooroo)
    This is another basic point mentioned - academic freedom allows for diverse degree topics. Different universities offer different degree specialisms. Given that an undergraduate degree is a limited degree, no single degree offers everything (and, quite frankly, no university employs specialists of all topics). As such, students have to choose what they want to study and how this shapes career pathways. For example, some universities offer adult disability nursing, others offer specialism in rehabilitation or palitative care. Whilst all nursing degrees will cover the same basics, the specialisms are what really matters (so my nursing friends tell me...)
    Yep. I'd hate to have academic freedom restricted. One of the very things that some students make their choices on where they study is the course content. If I wanted a bog standard degree I'd learn law. Granted a degree from Oxford may not be the same as another from Thames Valley, but the principle of law remains, it is standardised to an extent and recognised by a governing body.

    The only thing I will add to this quality milarky is that there were concerns with lots of students achieving firsts and upper seconds, but this is not the sole issue with less prestigious universities. Elite universities can just be scared of not giving out too many lower seconds and thirds because it looks bad in league tables and to, wait for it, employers! If de Montford University gave the same amount of firsts in maths as Durham did there would be a thread about it on here, trust me.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by suuuuuuseh)
    It's an interesting question, and I think it seems that to some extent, the higher you climb with regards to higher education (i.e. bachelor's degree -> master's -> PhD) the less it starts to matter. However, I do think that in the case of the recruitment of young graduates (i.e. very early twenties in particular), the university from which the degree came can indicate several things- particularly aspirations, ability at the time of application (as it is accepted that 'passing' the interview stage at universities such as Oxbridge isn't easy), perceived potential etc. Although people can change rather dramatically in the 3/4 years a typical degree lasts, I guess it's similar in some ways to how universities look at GCSEs as well as A levels when you initially apply. Sometimes past performance can be quite telling too.
    I don't think there are any universal principles, but I see your logic and anticipate that certain brand names (Oxford in particular) signal quality to some employers. However, I can also imagine discrimination against Oxford graduates (perhaps because of jealousy), and I know of professions (such as medicine) where the reviewed application is void of reference to university. Come to think of it, my dad interviews for BAE Systems and doesn't speak too highly of Oxford engineering grads, but speaks highly of Loughborough and Imperial.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by oo_Lucinda_oo)
    Closer to Brookes
    According to league tables, you're way out. Otherwise good point
 
 
 
Poll
Could you cope without Wifi?
Useful resources
Uni match

Applying to uni?

Our tool will help you find the perfect course

Articles:

Debate and current affairs guidelinesDebate and current affairs wiki

Quick link:

Educational debate unanswered threads

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.