Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Degree Class is no Longer Important

The relentless grade inflation in British secondary and tertiary education has been well documented. A first or upper second class degree or a grade A at A level no longer means very much. It has  been far too easy for universities to cover up their deficiencies or attract applications by handing out firsts or upper seconds like smarties.

Now the consequences are beginning to become apparent. Ernst and Young (EY), the accounting firm, will no longer require applicants to have an upper second or three grade Bs. Instead they will use "numerical tests" and "strength assessments" to assess applicants.

I suspect that in a little while EY will come under fire for not recruiting enough of those groups that do not test well, especially in quantitative skills. They and others will probably join in the hunt for the Holy Grail of modern social science, the factor that is non-cognitive but still significantly predictive of career success.

Meanwhile, universities will try to find new functions to replace their historical role as the guarantor of a certain level of cognitive ability. Expect to see more conversations about assessing civic engagement or reaching out to communities.

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