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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Failing students given pass marks
University student
Some marks were boosted by as much as 14%
University students with exam marks as low as 26% were given pass grades in an effort to reduce failure rates, documents reveal.

Leicester's De Montfort University raised marks for five modules of a pharmacy course in 2004, the Times Higher Education Supplement found.

In one, they were increased by up to 14 percentage points, details gained under the Freedom of Information Act show.

The university said it had "every confidence" in its pharmacy course.

'Not up to it'

In 2004 staff were told that failure rates of 50% could put their jobs at risk, meeting minutes show.

It had previously been stated that students "were not up to the rigours of the programme [and] that they did not have the right attitude to study".

Lecture attendance was low and there was "a lack of work".

At the meeting it was decided marks for first-year undergraduates doing the MPharm course should be raised by between six and 14 percentage points.

Those for second-year students were boosted by two percentage points.

Two members of staff resigned in protest at the decision, the THES reported.

In 2005 the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain placed De Montfort "on probation" after investigating allegations of "marking irregularities".

It returned to the university this year, finding "substantial progress" and that "assessment procedures were appropriate".

Examiners were now "in no doubt standards were being maintained and were comparable to those elsewhere in the sector", the society said.

The university told BBC News it had "thoroughly reviewed all processes" and "made changes where appropriate".

A spokesman added: "The consistency of academic processes is critical to maintaining the highest possible quality of course and is something the university is continually scrutinising."

He said: "We continue to have every confidence in the quality and robustness of the pharmacy modules and course, in the staff that teach the modules and in our students."

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