Universities face measures to beat ‘grade inflation’ after rise in First Class Degree rates

Cardiff University Graduation Ceremony. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

By Emily Hatter

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 26% of UK students graduate with a first class degree, meaning universities may have to step-in before their teaching and degree credibility is placed at risk. This increase in success dates back to the 1990s where only 8% of students graduated with a first, rising to 18% in 2013. As a result, universities which are more likely to award higher grading degrees may be viewed as less credible than those with a variety of grade ratings.

Students are achieving more with the facilities Universities now offer. More students from diverse backgrounds are accessing higher education and to meet the demand, universities are investing more money into their staff and resources. Moreover, top universities are becoming more strict on their intake meaning the students they accept are already academically high-achievers.

Students are also working harder to get better value for money, in 1998 tuition cost £3000 a year compared to £9250 today (£9000 in Wales). This dramatic increase in price could result in students wanting to achieve the best degree they can for the price.

Universities UK – representing higher education institutions – have announced they would offer their own proposals to manage grade inflation. Their spokesperson said: “It is essential that students, employers and the public have confidence in the ongoing value of a UK degree”.

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