Education Letter: Your views

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The Independent Online
The answer to David Walker's question "Have degree classifications had their day?" ("Down with the 2:2!" Education + April 3) is a resounding "yes!" Every year, thousands of stressed-out markers expend much time and energy determining whether tens of thousands of anxious students are on the "right" or "wrong" side of the 2.1/2.2 borderline. Their decisions rest on subtle distinctions in the candidates' performance that have some relevance in the academic world but mean little outside. In fact, the quality of graduates - as employees, and as citizens - depends on many factors, most of which are assessed imperfectly, if at all, in their final examinations. So why not grade all student papers simply as fails, passes or distinctions? Make the degree a certificate of competence, like a driving licence. (And as with the driving test, allow those who fail to retake it again and again.)

Award distinctions to those who prove they have the talent and dedication to benefit from postgraduate study, and leave the rest unclassified. I have no doubt that we can find more productive outlets for the resources which this revolution would liberate.

Dr Mike Sutton

Department of Historical and

Critical Studies