Home > Policy and analysis > Reports > Degree classification: transparent, consistent and fair academic standards

Degree classification: transparent, consistent and fair academic standards

Degree classfication: A wide range of factors behind the increase in the number of graduates receiving first and upper-second class degrees.

This report by UUK, GuildHE and QAA, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, on behalf of the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) looked at the reasons behind the increase in the number of graduates receiving first and upper-second class degrees.

Key findings show that a wide range of factors could be driving the increase in upper degrees, including additional investment in teaching and learning and heightened student motivation. However, there is a risk that a continued increase in the number of top degrees may undermine confidence in the value of a degree from a UK university, making the classification system less useful for employers and students. 

The report recommends that universities should issue a sector-wide statement of intent, leading to actions to protect the value of qualifications over time. This includes commitments such as:

  • Reviewing and publishing evidence on their degree outcomes at the institutional level – the skills and knowledge demonstrated by graduates at every grade with external assurance of the data – in a statement. This should enable a university’s governing body to ensure the university is protecting the value of its qualifications.
  • Agreeing common criteria, to be used by all universities, to describe the quality of work required for each degree classification.
  • Publishing and explaining scoring systems and processes that universities follow to determine a student’s final degree classification in an accessible format, including why any practice differs from accepted norms.

Technical report

The drivers of degree classifications

This publication and research was carried out by Dr Ray Bachan, University of Brighton on behalf of the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment.

Degree classification consultation

Degree classification: transparent, consistent and fair academic standards (consultation document)

The UK wide UKSCQA degree classification consultation, run by QAA on behalf of the UKSCQA, invites respondents to consider these recommendations in line with national regulatory contexts, how they might be taken forward, and what further action might need to be taken.

Responses should be made through the online portal by 8 February 2019.

Save study abroad campaign

#SupportStudyAbroad

An urgent campaign to encourage the UK government to commit to funding study abroad opportunities in case of a no-deal Brexit.

News

Universities taking steps to tackle grade inflation

28 November 2018
UK universities and other higher education providers are planning a range of changes to the degree classification system to tackle perceptions of grade inflation and ensure public confidence in the results students receive and the value of a degree.

Government review is a fantastic opportunity to improve the university system for students

5 September 2018
Government must aim to create a sustainable university funding system in England, which supports learners from all backgrounds to reach their potential.

Blog

Women studying

University disciplinary processes under the microscope

8 February 2019
Ian Hynes, CEO of Intersol Global, discusses steps universities can take to improve their disciplinary processes.

Audience member asking a question

Creating the right environment for freedom of expression: new guidance for universities

2 February 2019
David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, discusses new guidance for universities on upholding freedom of expression.