Page last updated at 23:30 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 00:30 UK

Universities try new grading plan

Degree
Universities want to find a way of showing more detail in degree grades

Universities are to try out a more detailed way of recording student achievement - which aims to supplement the current grading system.

A total of 18 UK universities are to test the new Higher Education Achievement Report.

This will show more information about students' performance in individual modules and assessments.

The pilot scheme will run alongside the current system of classifying degrees as first, second and third class.

The pilot project follows the report by the Burgess Group, in which the vice-chancellor of Leicester University, Robert Burgess, looked for a replacement for the traditional grading system.

'Transparent'

There have been concerns that too many students were being awarded a 2:1 degree - and that employers did not have enough information from degree levels to distinguish between job applicants.

In 2004, Professor Burgess produced a report on behalf of Universities UK which said that the current grading system has "outlived its usefulness" - and which called for a more informative "progress file".

A follow-up report in 2007 concluded that despite the weaknesses of the current system nothing else had been found that was definitively better and suggested that the current grades could be supplemented by additional information about students' results and coursework.

This system of augmenting the degree grades with these "Hear" reports is now going to be tested from 2009.

The pilots will be in four subjects - English, biology, accounting and creative arts.

"We are delighted that so many institutions have agreed to trial the Hear with the involvement of students and employers. This will give us an opportunity to see if the proposals add value and are practical," said Professor Burgess.

Higher Education Minister, David Lammy, said: "Providing clear and transparent information is essential both for students and their future employers."

The reform of degree grades was proposed in 2004 against a backdrop of changes in higher education - with the government linking extra funding from fees to an expectation of widening participation and greater openness in admissions.

In 2004, a report was also publishing proposing that students could apply for university places after they had received their A-level grade. The government endorsed the findings - but a review of possible implementation is also timetabled for 2010-11.

The trial institutions for the new Hear report will be University of Leicester; Goldsmiths, University of London; University of St Andrews; University of Manchester; Newcastle University; University College London; University of Aberystwyth; University of Northumbria; University of Wales Institute, Cardiff; University of Derby; University of Northampton; University of Gloucestershire; University of Greenwich; Keele University; University of Ulster; University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury; York St John University; and Newman University College.


SEE ALSO
'Lack of will' on fair admissions
28 Jul 08 |  Education
Degrees 'should give more detail'
16 Oct 07 |  Education
Degree grades 'in need of update'
04 Nov 04 |  Education
Degree grades overhaul proposed
28 Sep 05 |  Education

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