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RAS concerned about UK degree proposals

Instead of the current first, second, third and fail classification it is proposed that

-There will be a simple pass/fail criterion for all Honours degrees

- Detail about a graduate’s performance will be provided by the use of a combined Diploma Supplement & Transcript

  •  For some time, the RAS recognizes, there has been a concern in the HE sector, and beyond, that there is a lack of consistency in the standard of honours classifications between different subjects within a university, and between universities.  This is despite the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ), subject benchmarks and equivalence of standards.  Additionally, many believe that a simple honours system provides insufficient information to measure the quality and the range of learning experiences of graduates.  It is important to have systems that overcome these problems, real or perceived, and that are regarded as informative, fair and robust.
    However the  RAS believes that it would be extremely difficult to phase out the traditional honours classifications and some universities would continue to use them, creating even greater inconsistencies.  Students would clearly opt for universities that offered the opportunity of a top honours award.  It is thought that many, perhaps most, employers are generally opposed to this proposal as they believe they understand the classification system, and use it as an easy filtering method when short-listing applications.

    The RAS strongly supports the use of Diploma Supplements and Transcripts that can be used in addition to the honours classification, as they do provide a more informative assessment of a graduate’s study programme and achievements.  It is not obvious they provide an automatic increase in consistency as HEIs use different grading systems to represent performance at module level. 

    In summary, the RAS strongly supports the retention of the honours classification system but supports the use of additional information being provided by all universities with strong guidelines being provided on the way that information is presented.