PSA: Universities are making it even harder for students to get firsts this year

New changes will slash the number of students getting a first by 25 per cent

Universities are clamping down on the number of students who receive firsts and 2:1s in a bid to curb grade inflation.

In the 2020/21 academic year, roughly one in three students (36 per cent) received first class degrees while 46 per cent of students achieved a 2:1 grade.

By the end of this year, universities will introduce measures to reduce the number of students getting firsts by 25 per cent, The Guardian reports.

Open book exams and “no detriment policies” used to combat the effects of the pandemic on university life are thought to be behind the recent spike in top marks.

Vice Chancellor of St Mary’s University Anthony McLaren said: “During the pandemic we have rightly recognised the disruption that students have faced and supported students’ achievement to be recognised as flexibly as possible.

“As we emerge from the pandemic it is time to redouble our focus on protecting academic standards and take strong action to ensure we maintain the wider confidence and trust in the system.”

Universities minister Michelle Donelan said the changes will encourage employers to value degree outcomes more.

“Hardworking students deserve to know that earning a first or upper second really counts and that it carries weight with employers — who in turn should be able to trust in the high value and rigorous assessment of university courses,” she told The Times.

Universities will use 2019 as a benchmark and aim to get the proportion of top grades back to the levels seen in that year.

Featured image: Shutterstock / ason Dodd

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