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Grade Inflation: An Employer Opinion

March 14, 2012

The Network for Educational Standards receives a lot of interesting comments about grade inflation. In this post an employer writes about the difficulties of assessing graduates and their awarding institutions:

As an employer, we are entitled to an opinion on the subject and consequences of grade inflation, provided that our opinion is based on evidence we experience. Of course, our experience is only a factor of our own limited exposure. Our exposure indicates that in Ireland there is now a culture of entitlement that everyone has a degree, everyone has a first or second and that all of our academic institutions are centres of excellence in everything.

Assessing Awards: A business graduate with 1st class honours - but can he calculate a simple percentage?

In the absence of direction (we have asked unsuccessfully) of how to compare degrees, we have to decide which establishments offer worthwhile degrees in certain subjects. Obviously, we have turned to “QS Rankings” and similar, we ask students what points did their establishment accept for them to do a degree course and we also judge establishments on their “graduates”. For instance, if we interview a business graduate with a 1st, who cannot work out mentally to the nearest €500 what 12.5% of €3000 is, then we judge the awarding establishment, not the graduate.

The degree awarding bubble is not going to burst, it is slowly deflating with irrevocable consequences to image for both serious Irish graduates and academic establishments at home and abroad. Each yearly academic intake needs to be protected and it is the duty of awarding institutes to know the limitations of themselves and their students  – a new system of degrees, diplomas, certificates, apprenticeships dictated by honesty and integrity is needed. Not everyone is an academic, not every lecturer in every Irish university would have got into a UK Russell Group type university or the top three Irish universities hence some “lecturers” may be more suited to training and the like as opposed to academia.

Be honest and be true to students, say what you are, believe in yourselves and produce the product worthy of useful degree, diploma, certificate, apprenticeship or whatever to gain employment and adjust the universities, institutes and colleges accordingly. A major revamp and clear out is perhaps required.

Submitted by Quinn Richardson Ltd.

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