Marks of grade inflation

May 10, 1996

If the likely degree grade has, indeed, risen over the past 20 years (Colin Lawson, THES, April 19) there are two factors which may have influenced this change. In many higher education institutions the change to marking across the whole range, ie 1-100 per cent, has meant that students' marks can, indeed rise to levels above what many academics in the past (and even today) could imagine. What does an essay marked at 95 per cent really mean, for example?

The other point to make is that postgraduate funding for advanced courses and research now requires applicants to have very good first-class degrees (and then funding is still not guaranteed); higher education institutions are keen to see their graduates gain funding. Perhaps it is these two factors which are responsible for inflating the grades for degrees?

Charlotte Roberts Senior lecturer in biological anthropology University of Bradford

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