Universities call for new degree classifications

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University vice-chancellors have condemned the current 200-year-old degree classification system as "outmoded" – claiming it did not tell employers enough about students.

They were giving evidence at the first session of an inquiry by MPs into universities following claims that some are inflating the number of first and 2:1 passes for a good showing in performance tables.

The vice-chancellors called for the introduction of new-style student transcripts – which would give students' individual marks for essays and details of work experience or overseas studies. They agreed it was impossible to compare firsts from different institutions.

Professor Rick Traynor, president of Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, said: "There is a significant difference between universities. A first in ancient history at [one] university is not the same as a first in tourism and management at [another] university."