British Universities Face Disciplinary Measures for Giving Too Many High Grades

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. sanction / ˈsæŋkʃən / (n) – a penalty or punishment

    Employees who do not comply with the new company policy will face severe sanctions.

  2. inflation / ɪnˈfleɪʃən / (n) – the state of being too big or too high

    The inflation of tuition fees in schools is due to the increase in teacher salary.

  3. recipient / rɪˈsɪpijənt / (n) – a person who receives or accepts something

    He is the recipient of the highest academic award in this university.

  4. cast doubt on / kæst dɑʊt ɑːn / (idiom) – to make something appear unreal

    His previous lies cast doubt on his statements today.

  5. dig into (something) / dɪg ˈɪntə / (idiom) – to investigate something to find more information about it

    The researcher dug into previous studies to learn more about UFOs.


Read the text below.

UK Education Secretary Damian Hinds called for sanctions on British universities involved in grade inflation.

Hinds announced this after receiving an official report from the Office for Students (OfS), a subgroup under the Department for Education, that students are getting grades higher than what they deserve. According to the report, more than 66,000 students received first class honors in 2016-2017. Compared to 2010-2011, there has been an 11% increase in the number of first class honors recipients. The analysis of the OfS also shows that students who received first class honors in 2016-2017 did not necessarily perform as well as the achievers in 2010-2011.

The education secretary warned that grade inflation casts doubt on the reputation of British universities, which are generally known for their high quality and standards. This is supported by The Telegraph’s comment, which noted that universities compete with each other by awarding higher grades as a way to attract more students.

To address this, the secretary ordered the OfS to take charge. The OfS was authorized to dig deeper into the universities’ data to find proof of grade inflation. The OfS will also be given the authority to impose fines as well as remove a university’s power to award honors if the school is proven guilty of grade inflation.

A committee composed of people in the education sector has started working on addressing grade inflation. It is currently developing new standards to ensure fair awarding of grades to students. Janet Beer, a representative of higher education institutions, assured that new standards will be developed with the public trust and confidence in mind.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that the universities creating grade inflation should be fined? Why or why not?
• What do you think should be done about students who have received inflated grades? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Aside from negatively affecting the reputation of universities, in what other ways can grade inflation be damaging (e.g. to students, universities)?
• In your opinion, what standards would ensure that grades awarded by universities are fair? Discuss.