First class degree numbers double

 

The number of students graduating with a first-class degree has more than doubled in 10 years, with one in six now gaining top honours, figures show.

Official statistics reveal that a record 61,605 graduates left university with a first last summer, with the numbers soaring in the past five years.

There has also been a rise in the numbers of students gaining an upper-second, according to figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

The latest figures show that two-thirds of students left university in 2012 with a first or 2.1.

This new figure is a 45 per cent increase from 2008, when 41,150 students got a first, and up 136 per cent from 2002, when 26,100 graduates received the highest degree grade.

There has been a rise in the student population in the last 10 years, but the number of those obtaining a first appears to haven risen further, meaning that the 200-year-old degree classification system has been called 'barely fit for purpose', according to the head of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

Carl Gilleard said that the system is being used more and more often by employers as an 'automatic cut-off point'.

"Over three quarters of AGR members require graduates to have at least a 2:1, yet it is widely accepted that the degree classification system is barely fit for purpose," he said. "As a recruitment tool it is a blunt and inconsistent measure, and so it is a shame it has become so heavily relied upon by employers."

Mr Gilleard said that the AGR backed the new school-style Higher Education Achievement Report (Hear). The Hear is a detailed record of a student's university achievement, which is given alongside a final degree award.

It can include more information on academic courses, such as module marks, as well as details of volunteering work, any prizes a student has won, additional qualifications that can be verified by the university and any other positions held, such as the captaincy of the hockey team.

More than half of UK universities have confirmed they are to bring in the electronic record, similar to the reports children are given at the end of the school year, with more expected to follow.

Mr Gilleard said: "Whilst the Hear is new territory for employers, it is one that the AGR believes will offer many benefits - providing employers with a far richer and broader range of information on their business's potential employees.

"I have noticed how it is acting as a catalyst for change, with students better able to articulate what they have to offer to employers and considering the skills they have developed more carefully."

HESA's new figures show that there has been a 16 per cent rise in the number of students obtaining a degree between 2008 and 2012.

The statistics also show that 68 per cent of the degrees gained by women in 2012 were a first or 2.1, compared with 63 per cent for men.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said "The proportion of firsts and 2:1s awarded has increased in recent years, reflecting increases in entry levels. Performance in A-level and other examinations have improved, so it is unsurprising that degree results would also show an improvement.

"However, the sector has recognised for some time that the current degree classification system is a blunt instrument, hence the recommendation last year that, from autumn 2012, all students entering undergraduate degrees will leave with a Higher Education Achievement Report (Hear), as well as a degree certificate."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said: "We are encouraging universities to implement the Higher Education Achievement Report because it has long been acknowledged that the degree classification doesn't give a detailed description of student achievement. This gives employers a much fuller description of students' skills and expertise."

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'