Tackling grade inflation: consultation on updates to the degree classification system

Date: 26/11/2018

The UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) is today launching a consultation on proposed changes to the degree classification system in the UK designed to ensure transparent, consistent and fair academic standards. QAA is running this consultation on behalf of the full committee.

The consultation asks how the higher education sector can implement the recommendations of Degree classification: transparent, consistent and fair academic standards, also published today. The report, the outcome of research undertaken by Universities UK, GuildHE and QAA on behalf of the UKSCQA, explores the reasons behind the increase in the proportion of graduates receiving first and upper second class degrees in the UK, and proposes sector-wide solutions to address them.

A key proposal is 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 standard 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.

The consultation also asks respondents to consider whether the common descriptions should be incorporated into the different national quality assurance and regulatory frameworks that operate in the UK, in a way that is appropriate for the different national contexts.

The full reports and the consultation document can be found on Universities UK's website. Responses can by submitted through an online form. The consultation will close on 8 February 2019. Outcomes and next steps are expected to be published in April 2019.

QAA will also run a series of consultation workshops across the UK in January 2019. More information will follow in due course.