Laurie Taylor Column

October 6, 2006

There they go again. More interference.

Who's "they"?

The QAA inspectors. They've prepared a report for the Burgess Group that argues that we should abolish degree classifications.

Abolish classifications?

Yes. Apparently all those firsts and uppers and lowers don't really measure the intrinsic worth of the candidate. They're often the result of the marking practices adopted by different examination boards.

What marking practices?

I suppose they mean things like our Rule 26b, which says that a candidate with only two upper second marks can be raised to an overall upper if there is supporting evidence in any other two papers provided that the overall average is not less than five marks below that required for an upper classification.

What could be fairer than that?

Or perhaps our Rule 53d, which says that a candidate can be dropped a class if there is one failure among the full set of marks that is unredeemed by the presence of at least a borderline upper in any two other papers as long as one of them doesn't include the project paper.

What could be fairer than that?

They end up by saying that the entire business of degree classification has the look of a game of chance.

That's a bit strong.

I suppose they might also be thinking of something like our Rule 86, which says that in the event of total disagreement between examiners the classification should be settled by the toss of a coin.

But we completely overturned that last year with our new Rule 86a.

Did we?

Don't you remember? It's now best of three.

What could be fairer than that?

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