Last week in The THES ...Catherine Belsey argued that exam classifications were old-fashioned.
Although I can relate to some of Catherine Belsey's article, much of it strikes me as odd. I have experience of six universities, two old ones as a student and four (two new, two old) as a member of staff.
The boundaries for the classifications are the same in them all. My experience in engineering departments is that most students easily fall into one classification or another. When this is not the case, discussion occurs to enable a student's performance and any difficulties to be fully explored. The outcome of this can only be that the student stays in the classification where s/he started or goes up. None of the universities of which I have experience employs mechanistic procedures.
Let us not fall into the trap of believing that just because we have a different system from another country, ours must be wrong. Ultimately, what is important is that students feel that they have benefited from their time in a department and take away an award that is worth something, both immediately and later in life. The last point would not be helped by yet more tinkering with the system.
* Mark Leeson, School of engineering, University of Warwick