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The influences on the increase of upper degrees

A research report on grade inflation authored by economist Dr Ray Bachan from Brighton Business School and commissioned by Universities UK on behalf of the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) has been published on the Universities UK website along-side a UK-wide consultation document. Ray is also our course leader for our Finance and Investment BSc(Hons).

The report has helped to guide the formulation of the consultation document which seeks to address concern over grade inflation from the office for students. It has received national interest and finds that whilst there are a wide range of factors, part of the increase in upper-degrees (1st and 2:1 classifications) is due to the influence of performance monitoring by government and university focus on league table position.

It also highlighted that there is a risk that if the number of top degrees continues to increase it may undermine the value of a degree from a UK university, making the classification system less useful for employers and students.

Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Debra Humphris, who is also Chair of the UUK’s Student Policy Network, said:

“We have some of the best teaching in the world and highly motivated students who are eager to learn, but we cannot ignore the legitimate concerns about grade inflation. It is essential that the public has full confidence in the value of a degree, and that degree classifications are meaningful for employers and students.

“We want to see greater levels of transparency and consistency in academic standards. This report and the upcoming UK-wide consultation will help universities consider how they can best protect the value of qualifications over time.”

Ray will be developing the research project further with UUK. A copy of the document can be found at:

and some of the media coverage of the report can be seen here:


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Universities UK

Clare Prust • November 30, 2018

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