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International perspectives on degree classification profiles - Latest Quality Compass now available

Date: July 28 - 2022

The rising number of students who graduate with ‘good’ degrees (generally defined as a first or 2.1) is often characterised as ‘grade inflation’ with the implicit - and sometimes explicit - indication that not all degree outcomes are merited or explained by data about students’ previous academic performance. Much of the media commentary focuses on degree devaluation or even deception, arguing that graduate performance does not match employer expectations in the workplace. While grade inflation is seen as negative, if students are being helped to achieve their academic potential, this must surely be a cause for celebration.

This is one of the key findings of our most recent Quality Compass - a deep dive into how patterns of student achievement are regarded worldwide, considering the variations, learning points and opportunities for students.

It identifies a major factor contributing to the rise in grades as the ‘student as consumer’ phenomenon, where students are paying higher fees and expect higher quality and degree outcomes, leading to better career prospects. The rise in grades is also attributed to funding methodologies that use student attainment data to reward institutions.

If we cannot agree on the underpinning causes, we cannot identify a 'silver bullet' to address the associated challenges. We want to consider the range of issues and have a mature conversation about what it means to have a large proportion of students achieving the highest degree classifications.

Protecting the integrity and reputation of UK higher education remains central to QAA’s role. Exploring degree standards, including classifications and classification profiles, will form a significant part of the QAA Membership offer for 2022-23.

You can read Quality Compass: International perspectives on degree classification profiles - is it an issue around the world? on our website. The webpage also contains links to our previous Quality Compass publications on assessment in a digital environment, micro-credentials and hybrid teaching and learning.

Our Quality Compass series is funded by QAA Members and we have chosen to make this series publicly available to support wider debate on key matters or policy issues in the UK and internationally.

If you have a topic you would like explored in future editions, or you would like to respond to anything raised in a previous edition, please contact us at We are always keen to hear from you.

Quality Compass: International Perspectives on Degree Classification Profiles - Is it an Issue Around the World?

Publication date: 28 Jul 2022