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'Grade inflation' means 80% more top degree grades - Is this a problem?

By ITS Education Asia


This recent BBC headline raises an interesting and possibly worrying dilemma for education institutions not just in the UK but everywhere. As stated in the article, the proportion of students in England awarded first-class degrees continues to increase - rising by 80% since 2010-11.

According to Susan Lapworth, director of competition for the Office for Students, "Worries about grade inflation threaten to devalue a university education in the eyes of employers and potential students."

The fear is that the possible lowering of standards to achieve top grades is unfair to those who had to work harder in the past to gain those grades; the increase in ease of gaining top grades may compromise public trust in the high standards of the universities; and worries about grade inflation threaten to devalue a university education in the eyes of employers and potential students.

According to the watchdog, the increase in students awarded first-class degrees between 2010-11 and 2017-18:

  • Imperial College London: 31% to 46%
  • University of Huddersfield: 15% to 40%
  • University College London: 24% to 40%
  • Durham University: 18% to 38%
  • University of East Anglia: 14% to 39%
  • University of Northumbria: 16% to 35%
  • University of West London: 13% to 34%
  • Staffordshire University: 14% to 34%

What do you think? Is grade inflation a problem?


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