In 2009-10, 63 per cent of students who obtained a first degree at a UK university achieved a first or an upper second. More than 14 per cent, or 46,825 students, gained a first.
The proportion awarded good degrees has increased gradually each year, data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show.
In 2005-06, 12 per cent of students achieved a first and 60 per cent gained a first or an upper second; in 1997-98, just 8 per cent of students obtained a first.
A cross-party committee of MPs raised concerns about the growth in good degrees in a report in 2009.
The now defunct Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee called for more research in order to establish the reasons for the increase and “to remove suspicions of what, we hope, are unfounded misgivings that [it] may result from factors other than greater intellectual achievement”.
The total number of students enrolled at UK higher education institutions stood at 2,493,420 in 2009-10, up 4 per cent from the previous year. Postgraduate enrolments were up by 8 per cent.