- Some universities last year handed 40 per cent of graduating students a First
- At ten universities, at least 90 per cent of students last year received a 2:1
- Almost 45 per cent of students got a first at Imperial College, London
- The high number of top marks has sparked fears over ‘grade inflation’
Once, only the very best of the best gained a first class degree.
But almost 50 universities awarded a first or 2.1 to eight out of ten students last year, analysis has revealed.
At ten institutions, 90 per cent of students received these awards.
Almost 45 per cent of students attending Imperial College, London received a First
And some universities awarded more than 40 per cent of graduating students a first.
The figures will spark fresh debate about grade inflation and if the centuries-old degree classification system is fit for purpose.
It comes after statistics published last month revealed 26 per cent of students now get a first-class degree – a rise of 44 per cent in five years. The Times Higher Education magazine analysed data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency on degrees awarded by UK universities in 2016-17.
At 47, at least 80 per cent of students gained firsts and 2.1s.
Professor Alan Smithers said ‘Universities have been guilty of rampant grade inflation’
Oxford awarded 93.8 per cent of students the top two levels, with Cambridge at 91.6 per cent, Imperial College London at 91.5 per cent, University College London at 91 per cent and Durham University at 90.8 per cent.
Eleven of the universities offering the most firsts and 2.1s specialised in fields like music and drama. However all specialist colleges, such as the Royal Academy of Music, were excluded from the list.
The analysis also shows that at almost a quarter of universities, at least 30 per cent got a first. Of those included, Imperial awarded the highest share at 44.7 per cent.
Education expert Professor Alan Smithers said ‘Universities have been guilty of rampant grade inflation which has rendered the classifications meaningless.’ Universities UK said: ‘Degree classification is a matter for individual institutions and degrees are awarded based on assessment … and sector-wide frameworks to ensure that high standards are upheld.’