Universities to tackle perception of ‘dumbed down’ degrees

The new pledge from the higher education sector is part of a nationwide consultation on grade inflation

Universities have agreed to tackle the perception that degrees are ‘dumbing down’ in a new joint statement.

Led by the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) with Universities UK (UUK), GuildHE and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), the new commitment is part of a UK-wide consultation on grade inflation.

The UK higher education sector has agreed to new rules that will be in place from the 2019/20 academic year.

Universities have promised to:

  • Ensure assessments continue to stretch and challenge students
  • Review and explain how final degree classifications are calculated
  • Support and strengthen the external examiners system
  • Review and publish data and analysis on students’ degree outcomes

As part of the measures to tackle grade inflation, a new common degree classification framework for all providers will be released by UKSCQA in summer 2019.

Prof Andrew Wathey, chair of the UKSCQA and vice-chancellor of the University of Northumbria, said: “The statement of intent sets out a clear framework for action which can work across the whole of the UK, and by taking this forward higher education providers can assure themselves and their students of transparency, reliability and fairness in the awarding of degrees.”

David Llewellyn, chair of Guild HE, said: “Students, employers and the wider public must be assured about the quality of UK higher education qualifications. The sector has therefore committed to work together to improve the transparency of the qualification awarding process and to ensure that qualifications properly and fairly represent the achievements of our students.


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