Degree classifications: just too good to lose

The final report of the group on measuring and recording student achievement has been published.

The report (available from UUK) basically accepts that changing the traditional degree classification system is just too darn difficult and that we can only get round it by adding a new and improved transcript (with a new name – HEAR) to provide lots of extra info.

Professor Bob Burgess, Chair of the Measuring and Recording Student Achievement Steering Group which produced the report, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “The report presents a strong case for change. The UK honours degree is a robust and highly-valued qualification, but the degree classification system needs updating. The continued use of overall judgements such as upper second and lower second actively inhibits the use of wider information about students. Graduates deserve more than simply a single number to sum up their academic work when they leave university.


“During the consultation we listened carefully to the views of a range of stakeholders. As a result, the report recommends a four-year development and testing phase for a new transcript system as part of a ‘Higher Education Achievement Report’. Such a system will contain a wider range of information than the current academic transcript and will capture more fully than now the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s performance. As we explore and develop a new system, it is anticipated that alternatives to the existing honours degree classification will be explored.”

Not the finest example of progressive thinking from UK universities. What proportion of students have to get a 2:1 before we change the system? Will anyone go it alone?