1 in 4 graduates awarded a First


Posted on 18th January 2018, by James Howell

Over one in four graduates who left university in 2017 were awarded a First classification for their degree - resurrecting the debate about intelligent students studying in an antiquated grading system.

According to new data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, an impressive 26% of graduates last year received the top mark for their academic efforts - a First. The results of the Class of 2017 also show a decline in the amount of Lower Second (2:2) degrees awarded.

Overall, the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that three out of four (76%) graduates in 2017 received a 2:1 or above, while in 2011-12 the number was closer to two-thirds (68%). This is welcome news for graduate job hunters as many employers use a 2:1 degree classification as a filtering tool for many graduate schemes.

The grades awarded were varied across the UK and graduates in Scotland have been awarded the highest amount of top degrees, with 78% of students claiming a First or 2:1. 76% of graduates in Northern Ireland were awarded the top grades with England (75%) and Wales (71%) also distributing top marks.

Graduate women (77%) are still more likely to achieve a First or 2:1 classification for their degree than their male counter parts (72%).

Criticism of the university grading systems alleges the classification system is out-dated and the four available grades are too broad. Other criticism includes no national regulation of grade boundaries, which leaves universities to decide in-house.