Starry, starry firsts

February 24, 2011

There is currently much debate within the academy regarding post-Browne tuition fees, a higher education "free market" and even revising offers to applicants owing to the overall increase in A-level grades. The introduction of the A* classification for exceptional students has been deemed one way of reacting to the perceived grade inflation at A level.

Might I suggest that the sector consider an award of first* for exceptional students at universities where the vast majority now graduate with upper-second or first-class degrees? Perhaps 80 per cent could be deemed as the first* border: currently, 70-100 per cent is the first-class range in the vast majority of institutions, with a much tighter range for third (40-49 per cent), lower-second (50-59 per cent) and upper-second (60-69 per cent) classifications.

It might, as a marketing bonus, also become one of a university's selling points to some applicants when the new fees structure is introduced and somewhere in the region of £9,000 a year is charged.

Howard N. Hughes, High Peak, Derbyshire

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