Proportion of students awarded firsts triples at Wolverhampton University

By Pete Madeley | Wolverhampton | Education | Published:

University of Wolverhampton students were more than three times as likely to get a top degree in 2017 compared with 2010, according to new figures.

The number of top degrees awarded has tripled in seven years at the University of Wolverhampton

Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that eight years ago 8.3 per cent of students at the city’s university were awarded firsts, a figure which jumped to 27.6 per cent last year.

Out of the 3,530 students to finish undergraduate degrees in 2017, 975 were awarded firsts, 1,285 a 2:1 and 850 received a 2:2.

In 2010, just 290 firsts were awarded, along with 1,425 2:1s.

It mirrors a nationwide increase in universities handing out top degrees since the Government announced tuition fees would triple.

James Allen, spokesman for the University of Wolverhampton, said: “The students’ success rate is down to their hard work, the excellent support of our staff and our investment in state of the art learning facilities.

“This along with our 96 per cent graduate employment rate demonstrates that we are delivering on our vision of being the University of Opportunity.”

He added that the university had also seen a 16 per cent increase in the number of students arriving with high entry grades.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), said some universities were ‘massaging the figures’.


He added: “They are changing the algorithms and putting borderline candidates north of the border.”

Mr Hillman said competition between universities, which was part driven by league tables, had added ‘extra incentives to award higher marks’.

And Tom Richmond, author of a report for think tank Reform, said: “Rocketing degree grade inflation is in no one’s interest.

"Universities may think easier degrees are a way to attract students, but eventually they will lose currency and students will go elsewhere, even overseas.


“Restoring the currency of degrees would also mean better value for money for the £18 billion that universities receive each year in tuition fees.”

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of universities regulator the Office for Students, said: “It is important that degrees hold their value over time, and if there is artificial grade inflation this is not in the interests of students, employers or the higher education sector.”

Students at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University were around twice as likely to get a first in 2017 than in 2010.

The University of Surrey had the biggest increase in the country, with the percentage of firsts rising from 16 per cent to 44 per cent over the period.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.


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