Grade Inflation hits the University Green League

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

The 2011 university green league tables are published in today's Guardian.  The usual suspects skulk near the top, but the University of Bath has managed to make it to 31st equal (6 others share this triumph) – up from a miserable 77th in 2010, thereby halting a near vertiginous plummet over the past few years.  Huzzar for that.

What is really notable about this ranking, however, is that it is enough to earn Bath a 1st class honours degree from People & Planet.   In all, 36 institutions got a first in 2011, whereas in 2010 it was only 26.   In 2009 it was 20,  in 2008 18,  and in 2007, 15.   These numbers really do speak for themselves.

Of course, like many another educational institution, People & Planet must be feeling the heavy pressure of expectation.  What a pity, though, that they seem to have responded.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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  • Dear Bill
    Don't knock 'em. The "grade inflation" you accuse P&P of reflects the fact that while there are flaws in how they determine the metrics - not enough account taken of Research volume (only using student numbers as denominator in many of the KPIs) - and much is made of relative improvement of certain metrics year to year ... they do also reflect the substantial changes / improvements in capacity and delivery of many institutions in the sector.
    All best, David

  • It seems odd to comment on my own blog, but here goes.
    I don't mean to be hyper critical of People & Planet as I know how much of a nudge and catalyst that the green league table (crude though it seems) has been in some places. My comment was as much as on what seems to me the arbitrariness of the classification cut-off points. David's points have stimulated another look at the table with this in mind.

    The following institutions have one thing in common this year:

    Position / University

    3 Worcester
    22 Anglia Ruskin
    37 Salford
    41 Coventry
    57 Robert Gordon
    73 Southampton Solent
    103 Birkbeck
    111 London Met

    This is that they all scored 14 out of 20 on "Performance" – which looks odd. David reminds me, however, that it would be good if we all scrutinised and understood P&P's methodology a little more. You can, here:

  • Bill,

    "My comment was as much as on what seems to me the arbitrariness of the classification cut-off points."

    David makes a strong point in this regard which you don't seem to have picked up on. The cut-offs for Grade boundaries are not arbitrary. Although only 26 scored a First grade last year, the cut off was set at the same level of 37 points this year, and the vast improvements achieved by universities against the criteria has pushed a further 10 universities into that First Class grade (ie. 37 points and above). That boundary is reviewed each year based on any changes to weighting and points allocated through the methodology. I would recommend you read it much more closely.

  • I look forward to meeting these People next time I visit their Planet.