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Record Number of Top Honours Awarded

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

The latest data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) indicates that the proportion of students leaving university with top honours has risen in the past five years to record highs.

HESA have reported that almost one in four (24%) students who were awarded a degree graduated with a first last year, compared with 17% in 2011-12.

The figures also show a rise in the number of students achieving a 2:1, with 73% of students in 2015-16 achieving an upper second award, compared to 66% five years earlier.

Further analysis shows a drop in the proportion of students awarded lower honours, with 22% of students achieving a 2:2 in 2015-16, and just 5% graduating with a third.

Graduate recruiters suggest there is no way of telling whether individual universities are becoming more generous in their awarding of degrees or whether standards are genuinely rising. There does however appear to be a trend in employers seeking more than a particular degree classification.

Employers have realised if they use a blunt cut-off such as a 2:1 or above they're missing out on some excellent candidates, and therefore degree classification for some recruiters has become less important.

In 2015 the global firm Ernst and Young announced its plans to remove academic and education details, including degree classifications, from its trainee application process and would decide who to interview based on candidates' performance in online tests.