The tables below show the universities with the largest increases and decreases in the percentage of LLB graduates awarded firsts and upper seconds. I have used the expression ‘degree inflation’ to describe this relative change but the reasons for the increase in the higher awards are not clear. Some contend that the increase truly is inflationary in that it is a result of pressures on university academics to upgrade degrees and not a reflection of better performance. The pressure is believed to come from two sources; the institutions – which are concerned with their position in league tables and from students who, as they now pay for their courses, are more likely to complain if they do not get the level of award they expect. Facing these twin demands examiners have – reluctantly, according to this view, – become more generous in their marking.
Others take a less negative view of the change and suggest that the increase in better awards is a reflection of the fact that students nowadays are more highly motivated than in the past. They know that they need a good class of degree to progress and so are prepared to work harder than previous students. Professor Roderick Floud, for example, the former vice chancellor of London Met, believed the rise was due to “an average increase in intelligence in the student population, greater effort by the students and much improved teaching in our universities”.
Professor Floud’s analysis is the one preferred ( naturally ) by a number of vice-chancellors but, if correct, one wonders what has happened in terms of selection and/or teaching at London Met and the other 16 universities where the percentage of higher awards has decreased in the last 10 years.
When reading the statistics remember they are a snapshot based on the difference in LLBs awarded in 1997 and 2007 and 1987 and 2007. The level of awards in any particular year may be affected by the size of the cohort and/or because the year in question just happened to be exceptionally good or bad. The ‘inflation’ (or ‘deflation’) figure does not, therefore, necessarily identify a consistent trend but the variation between two years. For more detail click the name of the university in the left columns of each of the tables below.
Not all the universities held the information requested and a few are yet to provide it.
For information about how the statistics were compiled please read the methodology
For information about other universities select it from the ‘categories’ list on the right and then click the link “LLB awards by class- [university name]“…
Universities with the highest rates of inflation 1997 – 2007
Universities with ‘negative inflation’ 1997 – 2007
*Nottingham Trent figures relate to 1998 – 2007.
*Wolverhampton figures relate to 2003 – 2007.
Only half of the universities were able to provide data relating to 1987 and they are listed below.
Some universities were able to provided data in respect of years close to 1987; access the individual university page from the right navigation panel.
The list 1987 – 2007