Number of top degrees FALLS for the first time following criticism of grade inflation during Covid

Number of top degrees FALLS for the first time ever following criticism of grade inflation during Covid pandemic

  • The number of first-class degrees awarded to students has fallen
  • Just 32 per cent of undergraduates were given the top award in 2021/2022 
  • This is a fall of four percentage points compared to the previous year
  • it marks the  first decrease in first-class honours since 1993 

The number of first-class degrees awarded to students has fallen for the first time since records began, it was revealed yesterday.

Just 32 per cent of undergraduates were given the top award in 2021/2022 – a fall of four percentage points.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) said it marks the first decrease in first-class honours since it started collecting data in 1993.

Universities faced criticism during the pandemic for degree inflation and last year pledged to tackle the issue.

The number of first-class degrees awarded to students has fallen for the first time since records began, it was revealed yesterday

The number of first-class degrees awarded to students has fallen for the first time since records began, it was revealed yesterday

Just 32 per cent of undergraduates were given the top award in 2021/2022 – a fall of four percentage points. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) said it marks the first decrease in first-class honours since it started collecting data in 1993

Just 32 per cent of undergraduates were given the top award in 2021/2022 – a fall of four percentage points. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) said it marks the first decrease in first-class honours since it started collecting data in 1993

Susan Lapworth, of the Office for Students (OfS), said the decrease in top awards was a welcome return to pre-pandemic levels. She added: ‘Left unchecked, grade inflation can erode public trust and it is important that the OfS can and does intervene where it has concerns about the credibility of degrees.

‘Universities and colleges understand that they must ensure that the degrees they award are credible and properly represent students’ achievement.

‘This is the way to maintain the confidence of students, employers and the wider public in higher education qualifications.’

The pandemic saw a rise in grade inflation following the introduction of policies to mitigate the impact of disruption from Covid, including open-book exams.

Bosses were urged to explain the increase in top grades, and if they couldn’t do so, they were ordered to limit the number of first-class degrees they were handing out.

Chris McGovern, a former headteacher and education policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher, said grade inflation risked ‘devaluing’ results. He added: ‘We’ve seen it with GCSE and A levels as well – we need to get back to meaningful qualifications. The currency has been devalued. Grade inflation makes it impossible to differentiate between graduates.

‘It is failing to differentiate the Isaac Newtons from the moderately good candidates.’

The statistics, released by HESA yesterday, revealed that 46 per cent of students were awarded upper second-class degrees in 2021/22, the same proportion as in 2020/21. A Universities UK spokesman said: ‘Universities have taken significant action over a number of years to protect degree standards, so that students, employers and the public can be confident of the value and high standards of UK degrees.

‘This decrease of 4 percentage points in first awards shows clear progress towards the commitment to return to pre-pandemic grading levels. However, we know we cannot take our foot off the pedal.’

Source

Related posts