Abolition of degree classification urged: Final grades are matter of chance, academic says
He told a conference: 'A lot of time is spent by examiners deciding what is the difference between a 2:1 and a 2:2. It is a matter of chance: whether the chairman of the board of examiners has had a bad night or whether there is time to remark the scripts.'
The secrecy of degree boards had been breached by the data protection legislation, he said, and students had to be given more information. Students would expect to know the rules by which they had been classified.
Cameras in degree boards would expose 'grave inconsistencies within subjects, within a university and between universities'. He had once asked the head of a French department how he identified a first-class script. 'That's easy,' came the reply. 'It reveals a certain je ne sais quoi.'
London University has already decided to supplement the degree classification with a detailed record of students' achievements and hopes the degree class will eventually disappear from the document.
But Tim Boswell, Under-Secretary for Further and Higher Education, warned that some employers were not happy about ditching degree classification before equally rigorous arrangements were in place. He backed the work on transcripts but added: 'You must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.'
He said: 'There is a risk that if the system is shaken too much, employers will revert to distinguishing between graduates or diplomates with reference to the entry standards required of them to enter their university or college. This would be a retrograde step.' It would severely disadvantage mature and part-time students and those with vocational qualifications. He said he was not against change and knew assessment techniques differed between subjects and universities.
Some employers say they do not want to spend time interpreting what different universities say in their transcripts, but Professor Alderman said the use of transcripts would raise standards. The crude degree class could be replaced by a document with details of individual subjects.
Margaret Murray, head of the Confederation of British Industry's education group, asked if it was possible to have a national standard for all degrees. She said academics should be able to tell students what they had to do to get a first. 'Standards must be defined in justice to and for the benefit of undergraduates.'
So what are the essential ingredients of a first class script? According to Professor Alderman, in his subject, history, they are 'a script that sparkles in a literary sense, that has a beautiful turn of phrase and that represents concepts in a very crystal- clear, precise fashion'.
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
- 5 Teen suffers embarrassing wardrobe malfunction in front of deputy PM
Which country would be hardest to invade?
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
UK weather: Severe weather warning for snow and torrential rain over bank holiday weekend
Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...