Azara Blog: A proposal for a Higher Education Achievement Report

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Date published: 2007/10/16

The BBC says:

University exam results should be supplemented with more detailed information about students' achievements, says a report.

But an inquiry conducted by university leaders says it has not found any better degree classification system.

So grades such as first class, 2:1 and 2:2 will continue alongside a pilot scheme giving more detailed exam marks.

This will give employers more "fine grain" information about graduates' abilities, says their report.

The inquiry team, chaired by Professor Bob Burgess of Leicester University, has been considering how to improve the system of showing students' achievements.

An initial inquiry report, in 2004, argued that the current system was "no longer fit for purpose".

And there have been concerns that the broad brush of the present grades - in which almost 60% of students receive a first or 2:1 - fails to distinguish between candidates.

Their concluding report still argues that the "degree classification system needs updating".

But it proposes retaining the current grades - on the basis that there is no evidence of an acceptable alternative.

"Would it make good sense to take the classifications away? I doubt it," said Prof Burgess - who says his committee considered many other systems used worldwide but failed to find any likely to be adopted in the UK.

"The way forward is building upon the current classification system and augmenting it."

The inquiry rejected ideas such as introducing more grades within the 2:1 band; having a simplified system of pass, fail and distinction, or using a specific percentage mark.

Instead, it proposes piloting a parallel system - to be called a Higher Education Achievement Report (Hear) - which would provide a detailed breakdown of marks in exam papers and course modules.

Another pointless inquiry. When hiring someone, even more important than the raw grades is whether the person fits into the organisation and is or is not lazy. The former can hopefully be determined in interview and the latter can hopefully be determined by references. Having "more fine grain information" about exam results might be useful if the job actually relied on skills supposedly learned in the degree course, but that is not likely. All in all, this whole exercise is a waste of time, although at least in this case they seemed to have gone for the least worst option (assuming you want to "do something").

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