Universities testing more detailed degree grades
More than 20 UK universities are to test a different way of grading degrees, based on students' average point scores.
This extra information would work alongside traditional degree grades.
The point score would show differences within grade boundaries, for instance if a students' achievement was equivalent to an A+ rather than an A-.
This is part of a long-term scheme to develop a way to distinguish between students with similar degree levels.
The project, run by the Higher Education Academy, is inviting 20 to 25 universities to test a more precise way of recording students' achievements.
The pilot would run during this year with the findings expected to be available next autumn.Precise measure
It would not replace the current grades - such as first class, upper and lower second - but would examine how a more detailed breakdown could accompany them.
The point score - a grade point average - is a cumulative figure showing undergraduate achievement during the course and in final assessments.
The final grade point would be recorded on a scale between 4.25 for the highest achievers and 0 for those at the lowest end.
GRADES OR GRADE POINTS?
Top first: 4.25 pts; A+
Good first: 4pts; A
Low first: 3.7pts; A-
High 2:1: 3.5pts; B+
Mid 2:1: 3.25pts; B
Low 2:1: 3pts; B-
High 2:2: 2.75pts; C+
Mid 2:2: 2.5pts; C
Low 2:2: 2.25pts; C-
Third: 2pts; D+
Low Third: 1pt; D
Marginal fail: 0.5pt; D-
Fail: 0pt; F
These would correspond to grades from A+ at the top to F at the bottom.
So a student with a point score of 4.25 would be equivalent to an A+ grade or top first class degree. A score of 3.75 would be equivalent to an A- or a low first class degree.
A mid-range upper second would be a point score of 3.25 or a B grade.
At the lower end, a point score of 1 would be the equivalent of low third class degree or a D grade. And 0.5 would be a marginal fail or a D-.
There have been long-standing calls for degree classifications to provide more information. When so many students get an upper second degree, there have been claims that it is difficult for employers to distinguish between applicants.
Using a grade average would allow students to have a more precise measure of how they compare.
This would also reflect the level of achievement across the full length of a degree course.
There have been other attempts to give more information about students. The higher education achievement record provides a transcript that includes extra-curricular involvement, as well as more detailed academic results, such as scores from individual course units.
The Higher Education Academy advisory group running the project is chaired by the vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester, Sir Bob Burgess.
"This is a hugely important project which will provide evidence to inform a full debate about degree classification and the possibility of a uniform grade point average system in the UK," said Sir Bob.
"It's a debate for students, universities, employers and the public. It is also an opportunity to examine how universities enable students to receive the most effective assessment and feedback on their work - which time and time again they reflect through satisfaction surveys as one of the most highly valued expectations of their time at university."