Proposed Overhaul of Higher Education

Thinking of chasing that elusive First Class degree? You might have to aim for a 4.0 instead. That is, if the government implements some recent proposals to alter the degree classification system. The entire higher education system could be in for a major overhaul after the government has spoken out in favour of radical recommendations. In a recent report by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to investigate quality and standards in higher education, it has been proposed that reviews be conducted into the examination system and the way course information is given to students.

The report also proposed improving the current degree classification system, leaving behind Firsts, 2:1s and 2:2s and bringing in a new scale of awards. One proposal is that a US-style classification be adopted, which would award 4.0s, 3.0s, 2.0s and 1.0s, in declining level of achievement. An alternative would be to accompany or replace the current class structure with a certificate showing the number of points a student has scored.

The HEFCE’s recommendations have come as a result of concerns that employers are finding the current degree bands too vague to allow them to discriminate effectively between graduates, especially since around two thirds of graduates are now achieving Firsts and 2:1s. The Minister for Higher Education, David Lammy, has spoken in favour of the HEFCE’s findings. He said: ‘Higher education continues to change and evolve, and our quality measures must change with it… I look to HEFCE and the sector to take a lead in ensuring these recommendations are swiftly acted on.’

Justine Moat


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