Students and Universities - Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee Contents

Memorandum 100

Supplementary submission from ASKe


  This supplementary submission draws on the uncorrected transcript of oral evidence on 9 February 2009.

1.  Comments in the uncorrected transcript of student evidence to the Select Committee suggest that students share the concerns of some academics and others that a "football-like league of universities" (as suggested by Dr Iddon) does now exist in the UK. There is a view that "different institutions offer very different student experiences and offer actually quite different qualifications" [suggested by Mr Bols], and that employers "factor their perceptions based on the market and prestige" [Wes Streeting] when comparing students from different universities.

2.  However, what is apparent from the student evidence is that misinformation and conjecture cloud the debate about academic standards in HE: for example some students giving evidence proposed normative methods of assessment, and others suggested that classification should partially depend on effort, rather than criterion-based assessment which is the commonly espoused practice in most, if not all, universities.

  3.  We would argue that none of this confusion over current practice can be sensibly discussed because of the lack of real empirical evidence about what—if any—differences there are between the standards of achievement of students from different universities in different subjects.

  4.  Until we have more evidence—and national communities of disciplinary assessment practice who can interpret the available data—any discussion or debate about standards is misguided as it can only be based on ill-informed conjecture.

  5.  We suggest that an important question still to be asked is: "how can national communities of disciplinary assessment practice be created?"

March 2009

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