Graduation ceremony

Over the last decade, the number of students across the UK who have been awarded a first or a 2:1 in their degree has doubled.

One in six students (53,215 in total) graduating in the summer of 2011 achieved first class honours.

Statistics show that firsts awarded to undergraduates at the University of Sussex has risen from 19 percent in 2009 to 22 percent in 2011.

Some have expressed concern that this suggests that markers are being liberal in awarding top grades.

Recent statistics however, have shown that higher grades at A-level run parallel to the increase in first and upper second-class classifications, suggesting that students are improving their academic ability.

It has been argued by a number of professionals in education that the value of the degree is being undermined by the sheer number of students achieving such high grades.

Alan Smithers of Buckingham University said: “Degree classifications have been rendered meaningless.

“Employers are resorting to looking at applicants’ A-level results and the institution at which their degree was attained, as they are now faced with numerous CV’s from first-class graduates.”

This not only presents a problem for those students who are attempted to break into their chosen field once graduating with a first or a 2:1.

Students with a 2:2 or third class degree are now finding it very difficult to find a job.

These concerns have instigated discussion about a serious overhaul of the classification system of degrees.

Smithers has called for the national  introduction of a ‘starred first’.

A way in which students whose academic performance excels that of the ‘average’ first can receive recognition of their efforts.

This renovation is also said to include a closer look at potential misconduct of universities, who are supposedly turning a blind eye to plagiarism in order to  raise grades at their institutions and aid them in climbing the league tables.

The Higher Education Achievement Report is and investigation into theexisting education system and a trial of new ideas.

The fundamental idea driving this project is that the degree classification is too limited a tool to ascertain a student’s skill, that more information on their academic performance should be readily available to prospective employers.

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