Reports that universities have increased their grades so much that the 2:1 is now more common than the 2:2 were confirmed this week, with the publication of national data on degree classes.
Information from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that 41 per cent of first degrees awarded in the United Kingdom in 1994/95 were graded as an upper second, while 35 per cent were a lower second. The proportion of first-class degrees appeared to have reached a plateau, with little change from the previous year at 7 per cent.
The graduate total in England grew in 1994/95 to 184,000, a 15 per cent increase on the previous year. Of these, 80 per cent gained a second-class degree. Just 6 per cent of first and second-class degrees were through part-time study.
More than a quarter of women graduates in England gained science degrees, compared with just over one in five in 1990/91. Numbers of women gaining degrees overall grew by 129 per cent, compared with 81 per cent for men over the ten years up to 1994/95. Among men and women in England, 36 per cent of first-degree graduates got their qualification in science.
Postgraduate qualifications were obtained by 86,700 students across the UK in 1994/95, of which 18 per cent were in teacher training, 11 per cent completed their studies mainly through research and 71 per cent were on taught courses other than teacher training.