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Education in the media: 13 January 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Exams and qualifications, Higher Education, Uncategorized, Universities

Today’s news review examines figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Authority on the proportion of students getting top degrees.

Degree grades

On Thursday, 12 January, the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) published data on university enrolments and grades for the 2015/16 academic year.

The figures show the proportion of students getting different degree grades and reveal more students are being awarded 2:1s and firsts.

This element of the HESA report was picked up widely in the media. It was covered by the Press Association, the Guardian, Daily Mail, Telegraph, and in print in the Times and the Sun.

The majority of publications did not reflect our position, which is that we are taking grade inflation seriously. This is why we have commissioned the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to strengthen the training of external examiners. A range of different approaches will be taken to training external examiners over the next five years, to find the best approach.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:

These statistics are further evidence of a healthy and diverse higher education system. This government continues to make it possible for more students to attend higher education than ever before including more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.


However, they also show that the sector needs to do more to ensure that high standards are maintained and that grade inflation is tackled. To support this, we have asked HEFCE to commission work to improve external examiner training, and will be introducing the Teaching Excellence Framework which will recognise universities which are stretching and delivering excellent outcomes for their students.

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