UK moves to fine schools for proliferating first-class degrees

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The United Kingdom is moving to check the proliferation of first-class degrees by fining higher institutions.

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds has said measures have been put in place to fine institutions found guilty of awarding too many top degrees.

Damian while citing evidence of grade inflation in higher institutions, charged the Office for Students (OFS) to challenge those Institutions that record an unjustifiable rise in the proportion of top degrees being awarded.

“I expect the Office of Students when they have their full range of powers to challenge those institutions that record an unjustifiable rise in the proportion of top degrees being awarded.”

Meanwhile, the Education Secretary said there had been a steep and unjustifiable rise in the awarding of first-class degrees, urging Universities to “reset the norm” by handing out a higher proportion of 2:1s, said universities found wanting should be ready to face fines, or even be prevented from awarding degrees at all, Hinds warns, following the recent evidence of grade inflation by universities.

EduCeleb.com recalls that in 2016-2017, 27% of students obtained a first-class honours degree from English universities, according to the OFS.

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It marked a major increase from the 16% who earned the score
in 2010-2011. More than three -quarters of all university students (78%) obtained an upper degree, meaning a first or 2:, up from 67% in 2010-2011.

The data found that 50.1% of students at the University of Surrey were awarded a first-class degree in 2016-2017 , while 37% received the score at the University of Huddersfield ,the report stated.

The analysis of the report also stated that the increases could not be attributed solely on the
increased pupil attainment and changing demographics.

Furthermore, the “Office for Students” is expected to handover powers later this year, allowing it to levy fines of up to £500,000 or 2% of a university’s income.

Damian said, measures are already being made by the sector to tackle the issue, including new standards to ensure all degree awards are consistent and fair.

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities United Kingdom, warned against confusing grade inflation with students and teaching improvement, saying institutions were determined to tackle inability to justify grade inflation.

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