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Seven UK universities are formulating plans to change their honours degree classification system to the US grade-point average model.
The group, which includes six Russell Group institutions but not the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, has held a series of informal discussions on introducing GPA.
The US system is viewed by the breakaway institutions as offering a more continuous scale, which avoids the "cliff edges" between honours classifications.
At least one member of the group - University College London – is thought to be ready to move away from first-, second- and third-class honours in just two years.
Michael Worton, vice-provost (academic and international) at UCL and chair of the informal working group, said that the current system was regarded by many as "not fit for purpose".
He added: "We can do better and we should do better for our students.”
UCL, one of the institutions furthest advanced in its GPA planning, is consulting staff and hopes to launch a pilot in 2012-13, with a view to the system becoming permanent from autumn 2013.
The other institutions involved - the universities of Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Warwick and York plus the London School of Economics - are at different stages in the process of switching classification models, but all have agreed to work together towards reform.
Professor argued that although the move may be controversial initially; there is an urgent need for a public debate about change.
He said the key drivers for reform were the unfairness of honours classifications; the rapid expansion and globalisation of higher education; the growing emphasis on graduate employability; and the need to reconsider teaching, learning and assessment.
Posted by Nick Tellwright
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