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Seven UK Universities to change degree classification systems

Seven UK Universities to change degree classification systems

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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