The British Academy responds to UUK report on grade inflation

28 Nov 2018

The British Academy has responded to University UK's report on grade inflation. 

'Degree classification: transparent, consistent and fair academic standards'  looks at the reasons behind the increase in the number of graduates receiving first and upper-second class degrees, and makes a series of recommendations on how to tackle the problem of grade inflation. These include the suggestion that degree outcomes could be removed from league-table ranking algorithms.

In response to the report, Harriet Barnes, Head of Policy (Higher Education and Skills) at the British Academy, said:

As the UUK report concludes, the inclusion of degree classifications in the measures for ranking higher education providers in league tables is likely to be a key driver of grade inflation in higher education. The British Academy has previously shared its concerns about league tables driving perverse behaviours in education in its response to the Government’s review of post-18 education and funding.

The Government is attempting to track and tackle grade inflation through TEF metrics but these metrics struggle to reliably differentiate between grades that have improved as a result of inflation or as a result of genuine improvements in teaching quality. A more effective solution to the problem would be to regulate the information used to construct league table rankings. This would ensure that there is no longer an incentive on institutions to inflate grades in order to move up places in the highly competitive league tables.

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