Government cracks down on grade inflation

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Tara Gandhi
Deputy News Editor

This move comes alongside fears that the number of first-class degrees being given out are undermining their value

Last academic year 26% of graduates were awarded a first class degree, according to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. This figure is up from 18% in 2012-2013.

Universities are graded Gold, Silver or Bronze each year by the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF), based on a number of criteria such as teaching quality. Universities will now risk having their rating downgraded if the TEF panel of students, higher education experts, and academics judge that the percentage of first class and 2:1 degrees handed out by the university ae are excessive. Participation in the TEF scheme is optional and the University of Glasgow have chosen not to receive a TEF rating.

This scheme is still in pilot stages and will be tested in 50 institutions this year before being rolled out nationwide in summer of 2020. The scheme has no set targets, but requires the TEF panel to judge whether they believe the institution is contributing to grade inflation.

Alongside this crackdown the government announced plans for the TEF rating system to be expanded to allow individual subjects to also be rated bronze, silver or gold.

Many within the higher education sector blame rising tuition fees for the inflation, as students and parents demand “value for money”, as graduates leave university with upwards of £21,000 in debt. Universities minister, Sam Gyimah, commented: “When you look at what makes our universities so prestigious, it comes down to the value of our degrees.

“The value of those degrees is threatened by grade inflation and that is a problem for students, employers and the universities themselves.”

“These new measures will look at how we can protect our globally recognised higher education system by discouraging universities from undermining the reverence a degree qualification from the UK commands.”