Making the grade

February 19, 2015

Among the many important points that Danny Dorling makes about admissions and participation in the English higher education system (“Money changes everything”, Features, 12 February), what struck me most was how unreliable predicted A-level grades are, the consequences of which in the classroom are profound.

Every August, admissions tutors come under pressure from university accountants to admit candidates who are below the defined levels of achievement for which their courses are designed, which leads to vastly differing levels of preparedness among the students we teach. The result is that much of lecturers’ energy goes into keeping the lower end of the class satisfied – something that is frequently measured – at the cost of not being able to stretch the more able students to their full intellectual potential.

This issue cannot be easily seen from outside the system because it is masked by the enormous quality assurance mechanisms that we have in place, so that against all the “learning outcomes’’ listed in our course brochures we can tick boxes to say that they have been met with confidence.

Mahesan Niranjan
University of Southampton

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations