Is it the end for the traditional degree? Keele University students to receive school-style reports
STUDENTS graduating from Keele University next year will receive school-style reports as part of a new system which could eventually replace traditional first and second-class degrees.
Around 1,500 people completing courses in summer 2014 will be the first to be issued with the electronic higher education achievement reports (HEARs).
It will include a breakdown of their module marks, as well as details of voluntary work, sporting success, prizes or positions of responsibility they have held during their time at Keele.
For the foreseeable future, students will still be awarded an overall class of degree. But it is hoped the new record of achievement will help employers distinguish between the glut of well-qualified job candidates.
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It follows concerns over grade inflation, with the number of UK graduates awarded a first-class degree more than doubling in the last decade.
Laurence Fuller, head of records and examinations at Keele University, said: "A lot of large employers only look at people with firsts or 2:1s.
"But you can get a good 2:2 or a bad 2:1 and there's very little difference between them. It's quite a harsh barrier to use.
"The HEAR will be a more rounded approach."
Keele helped to pilot HEARs and is one of several universities to introduce them. Staffordshire University has also confirmed it plans to issue the reports in future.
Carl Gilleard, head of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said they would provide a 'far richer' range of information on potential employees and their skills. He described the 200-year-old degree classification system of firsts, upper and lower seconds and third-class honours as 'barely fit for purpose'.
It comes as figures obtained by The Sentinel show the proportion of Keele graduates awarded first-class degrees has gone up from 11.7 per cent to 17 per cent over the last five years.
At Staffordshire University, the number of firsts increased from 12.2 per cent to 15.1 per cent.
At Manchester Metropolitan University, the proportion went up from 12.1 per cent to 16.8 per cent between 2008 and 2012.
Across all three universities, it represented an extra 609 students gaining the highest degree grade.
Staffordshire University's executive pro vice-chancellor, Rosy Crehan, stressed rigorous checks were in place when awarding degrees. This includes using a second internal marker and an external moderator.
Ms Crehan claimed more Staffordshire University students were now achieving their potential as a result of better support.
She added: "Results at GCSE and A-level have also been improving. We get some really good applications from students, including those with non-traditional qualifications.
"We're really encouraged by the success of our students. Our firsts and 2:1s show we are improving the student experience."
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