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Grade Inflation?

VU International News and Reviews No. 116 July 2 2018

July 2019

Recently, Times Higher featured an article on grade inflation in the United Kingdom. A second look at scholarly literature on the subject surfaced a study by Ray Bachano of the University of Brighton on “Grade inflation in UK higher education” from 2017. His statistical analysis of grades does show some increase in ‘good’ (1st and upper 2nd) and excellent (1st class) and a slight decrease of the low 3rd class grades. But as the graph shows, the trend is nowhere near as steep as newspapers or politicians may make out and the author – while not ruling out that grade inflation has indeed occurred particularly since 2009 – also point to increasing student motivation and improving educational technology as possible explanations.

He also notes that there is no statistical support for the assumption that women’s grades are improving faster than those of men; nor does he see statistical support for the notion that it is harder to get a good or excellent grade in the sciences.

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