Degrees Awarded Could Fall by 25%
Due to plans to reverse the grade inflation seen during the Covid pandemic, the proportion of top degree grades awarded to undergraduates in England could fall by nearly 25%. This is according to Universities UK and GuildHE, representing institutions across the higher education sector.
There has been criticism from ministers and the higher education regulator for recent year-on-year increases in these awarded grades. However, with the pandemic causing widespread disruption to learning and assessment, it was decided that a more flexible approach needed to be taken this year. Many universities adopted a policy of awarding “degree outcomes that reflect students’ prior achievements and potential”.
Under the new plans, which the Department has approved for Education, universities will aim to return to pre-pandemic levels of firsts and 2:1s being awarded over the next two years. This likely means a decrease in the overall proportion of top grades being granted, although the exact figures will vary from university to university.
While some students may be disappointed by this news, it is hoped that the move will help maintain standards long-term and ensure that employers and others can continue to have confidence in UK degrees.
The first batch of degree results under the new system is expected to be published at the end of this year. So if you’re due to graduate in 2021, make sure you’re prepared for the possibility of a lower grade than you might have been expecting. And if you receive a lower grade, don’t panic – there are plenty of other things employers value besides your degree classification. Focus on what you can offer and present yourself in the best possible light, and you’ll still be able to achieve your career goals.
According to Universities UK, the changes are necessary to “maintain the wider confidence and trust in the higher education system”. The organisation’s president, Alistair Jarvis, said: “The unique circumstances of the pandemic required a more flexible approach to this year’s degree outcomes. However, as we emerge from the pandemic, it is time to redouble our focus on protecting academic standards and take strong action to ensure we maintain the wider confidence and trust in the system.”
In 2021, nearly 38% of undergraduates in England were awarded a first, more than double the 16% who received one ten years ago. This is even though the proportion of students achieving top grades at A-level has remained relatively static over the same period.
So if you’re due to graduate in the next few years, it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of receiving a lower grade than expected. And if you receive a lower grade, don’t panic – there are plenty of other things employers value besides your degree classification. Focus on what you can offer and present yourself in the best possible light, and you’ll still be able to achieve your career goals.
What do you think of the plans to reduce the proportion of top degree grades being awarded? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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