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Cambridge University Considers US Degree System

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Cambridge University is considering whether it should break with 200 years of tradition by adopting a US-style grading system in a bid to combat continuous grade inflation.

The move to Grade Point Average could see the first and 2:1 award being phased out, as the university looks to align itself with other global institutions.

Leading academics have voiced their concerns over the huge number of top degrees being handed out, with three quarters of graduates now leaving university with a 2:1 or higher.

Pro-vice chancellor at Cambridge, professor Grahama Virgo, said the current system was causing dissatisfaction among academics and that the university was looking for alternatives.

One route being considered if the North American GPA model, which has already been trialled at more than 20 universities in the UK.

Supports of GPA argue the system more accurately reflects the performance of students, because they are continuously assessed throughout their course, receiving a final mark between 0 and 4, expressed to two decimal places.

A report by Universities UK last year found that 27% of universities were considering the switch to GPA, while University College London, Oxford Brookes and Surrey have already introduced the system on a voluntary basis.

Reports suggest the Office for Students is considering whether to explore GPA as part of its undertaking to create sector agreed standards for awarding degrees.