First year pass rate set to increase

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Plans to improve degree classification could result in a possible increase in the pass rate for first years in the major course, going up from 45% to 50%.

As the Degree Classification Working Party awaits a final sign-off by University Senate, – the most senior governing body of the University – further plans to improve degree classification continue to arise. The Working Party was formed in February 2007 to reassess the current pass rates for degrees at the University, and to consider possible changes to improve the classification process.

The new undergraduate degree regulations proposal includes eight main propositions from a university-wide grading system. This is intended to promote the use of the full marking range and directly link to the assessment of learning outcomes to the provision of final year re-sits. Although the increase in the pass rate is not part of the proposal, it is a key topic that has come out of the Working Group’s research and will be put to Faculties and Academic Council before drafting a proposal to Senate.

When asked about the idea, Robin Hughes, Lancaster University Students’ Union Vice President (Academic), told SCAN: “I genuinely think it will be interesting as it would raise a academic debate into what the pass rate is about, and see how it helps students learn better and give them motivation to aim higher,” but then went on to express his worries of it causing a big distinction between expectations of minor and major students. “My concerns outweigh the positive aspects, this suggestion comes from the best intentions but it’s implications, not intentions, that we need to look at.”

First year student Sophie Acher is in favour of the proposed increase in the pass rate. “Many students see the first year of university as a time to enjoy yourself and party, opposed to concentrating on your degree. Putting the first year pass rate up will not only sort out the boys from the men, but will encourage students to work hard every year,” she said.

But Simon Dunlop, a County first year disagrees. He said: “The first year has purposefully low pass rates because it takes a long time to adjust to a new environment. I think raising the first year pass rate will only put unnecessary pressure on students and cause stress and upset amongst students.”

The idea is still new and will undergo a lot of discussion before anything concrete will happen, Hughes was keen to emphasise that he “anticipates a lot of healthy debate from both students and staff” and that “it’s important to remember first year isn’t just an academic experience but also a university experience.”

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