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Universities in England are giving too many college students prime diploma grades, the Workplace for College students (OfS) has warned.

The watchdog’s evaluation exhibits the variety of graduates being awarded first and upper-second class levels rose from 67% in 2010-11 to 78% in 2016-17.

The OfS says the rise was “unexplained” and couldn’t be absolutely put all the way down to different elements, comparable to background, prior attainment and improved educating.

Universities UK mentioned universities have been already tackling grade inflation.

What does the evaluation present?

The OfS report is predicated on 1,638,490 college students who graduated from 148 universities in England between 2010-11 and 2016-17.

The evaluation discovered that:

  • the proportion of graduates awarded first and upper-second class levels rose from 67% in 2010-11 to 78% in 2016-17
  • the proportion of first-class levels rose from 16% to 27% in the identical timeframe

It says that in 2016-17, a complete of 77 universities in England confirmed a statistically important unexplained enhance in first-class diploma awards – this was in relation to each different universities and to their very own degree of firsts given in 2010-11.

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The OfS report finds that 14 establishments had an unexplained rise of above 20% in firsts and upper-seconds.

Of those, the College of Bradford had the very best rise, at 24.6%, adopted by Coventry College, at 24.four%.

The OfS additionally says 13 universities had an unexplained rise in firsts of over 20%, with the College of Surrey seeing the very best rise, at 27.three%.

What does the OfS say?

Nicola Dandridge, chief government of the OfS, mentioned the evaluation would make uncomfortable studying for some universities.

Ms Dandridge mentioned it was essential for college students, graduates and employers that levels held their worth and that “spiralling grade inflation” undermined public confidence.

“This report exhibits starkly that there was important and unexplained grade inflation since 2010-11,” she mentioned.

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“We completely recognise how onerous college students work for his or her levels, and settle for that improved educating and pupil assist, and will increase within the college students achieve earlier than college, may clarify a number of the enhance in grades.

“Nevertheless, even accounting for prior attainment and pupil demographics, we nonetheless discover important unexplained grade inflation.”

How have universities responded?

Alistair Jarvis, chief government of Universities UK, mentioned: “Universities are already taking steps to sort out grade inflation.

“The report we not too long ago printed outlines a variety of measures to guard the worth of over time which are presently being consulted on by the UK Standing Committee for High quality Evaluation.

“It’s important that the general public has full confidence within the worth of a level.”

Prof Jane Powell, vice-provost at Surrey College, mentioned: “Our variety of first-class levels displays a mixture of things, together with main investments in prime quality educating, assets, and tutorial assist.

“This has seen us entice college students with more and more robust tutorial backgrounds and excessive ranges of motivation to attain wonderful outcomes.”

In an announcement, Coventry College mentioned: “We have invested closely in additional enhancing educating and studying and guaranteeing quick and good high quality suggestions, which is mirrored in excellent progress for the college between 2010-11 and 2016-17. This research doesn’t take this progress under consideration.

“We might recommend our proportions of firsts and [upper seconds] are in keeping with our place within the UK rankings, recognising the good studying progress that our college students make.”

What’s the federal government’s view?

Training Secretary Damian Hinds mentioned college students deserved a grading system that correctly recognised their onerous work.

“I sincerely hope right now’s figures act as a wake-up name to the sector – particularly these universities which are actually uncovered as having important unexplained will increase.

“Establishments ought to be accountable for sustaining the worth of the levels they award.

“I’m urging universities to sort out this severe challenge and have requested the OfS to deal firmly with any establishment discovered to be unreasonably inflating grades.”