Questions of degree 1

November 12, 2004

Would it really be sensible to replace degree classes by some other system, supposedly objective and more fine-grained?

Percentage marks do not and should not possess the kind of objectivity that would support their use in selection for jobs or other purposes.

Looking at John Curran's figures ("First 'could be given for 51%'", November 5), one could conclude that it is much harder to get a first at London Metropolitan University than at the London School of Economics.

Informed academic judgement would perceive the reverse to be the case.

We should be honest with employers, students and government: at university level it is neither possible nor desirable to mark objectively, and honours are a mark of respect, not a measure of quality.

The introduction of grade-point averages to two decimal places would be spurious accuracy and a dishonest attempt to represent academic judgements as possessing the status of scientific measurement.

Julian Newman
Glasgow Caledonian University

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