New degree classification scheme to take into account the ‘full experience’ of University life

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Students from eighteen universities across Britain will be receiving new-style ‘report cards’ alongside their standard degree classifications from 2009.

The Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) will include a breakdown of students’ marks on individual modules and assignments, as well as details of voluntary work undertaken and involvement in student societies.

The new system, proposed by Professor Robert Burgess of the University of Leicester, has been designed with the aim of providing potential employers with a wider range of information about a student than they are given from the existing classifications. Currently, two-thirds of graduating students obtain either a first or a 2:1. One purpose of HEAR will be to allow employers to distinguish between a range of highly qualified students, identifying those with skills most relevant to the workplace.

It is hoped that the scheme will encourage students to participate fully in all areas of university life. Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, told the Guardian: “Employers are very interested in the full experience students have of university. Running a university society, for example, does help a student develop important skills.”

Other advantages to the scheme would include students receiving a fuller official acknowledgement of their successes at university than a bare first, second or third.

The development of the report cards was due to a report by Professor Burgess in 2004 stating that the current classification system needed a complete overhaul. This was followed by a second report in 2007 which found no superior method of classification to the one used at present, and so concluded that providing more information about results was a better alternative to leaving the system as it stood.

HEAR will be piloted in English, Biology, Accounting and the Creative Arts at various institutions, amongst them St Andrews, The University of Manchester, and University College London

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