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Tuesday, 27 January 2009

'Universities try new grading plan'

Browsing the internet a few days ago I came across an interesting article about the proposed idea to try new grading plans in universities- firstly to be tested in 18 institutions around the country from September 2009. The thinking behind this change is to give further insight into students performance in individual modules and assignments.

The article stated that 'there have been concerns that too many students were being awarded a 2:1 degree - and that employers did not have enough information from degree levels to distinguish between job applicants.'

The theory of the new grading system seems to be fair enough, but I wonder whether it will jeopardise students who may have an 'off day' and appear weak in a particular subject area, or students who are consistent but fail to show a particular strength?

I know personally I have certain modules that I am stronger at, and hope that similar students under the new system will not appear 'erratic'. We shall see...

The pilot scheme will run along side the current grading system, and the current grades could be supplemented by additional information about students' results and coursework.

The trial subjects are English, biology, accounting and creative arts.

The institutions are University of Leicester; Goldsmiths, University of London; University of St Andrews; University of Manchester; Newcastle University; University College London; University of Aberystwyth; University of Northumbria; University of Wales Institute, Cardiff; University of Derby; University of Northampton; University of Gloucestershire; University of Greenwich; Keele University; University of Ulster; University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury; York St John University; and Newman University College.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Student Jobs Crisis

On Tuesday the BBC published an article entitled; 'Downturn hits students' finances' and boy are they right! Despite the common misconception that students are lazy bums who live off the system the BBC said that;

'An HSBC and National Union of Students survey in November found 45% of students that work admit that they had to sacrifice their grades in order to do so. It also found that a third of students work more than 17 hours a week, and 3% have to work more than 33 hours.'
With a maintenance loan which won’t even cover my rent I have to work in order to live, before thinking about all the other stuff. Textbooks aren’t cheap and neither is gas and electricity! Obviously students go out drinking and have a good time as well, that’s part of being young and with student discounts available this does not take up a large proportion of student income at all.

A majority of students who started University in 2006 and all those who have joined since have been subject to top-up fees of around £3000 per year and those of us who are set to graduate this June will have earned ourselves around £20,000 worth of debt, no graduate job and a potentially lower grade than we could have achieved because we have had to work in order to pay rent and buy food.

The BBC article focuses on the fall in the number of jobs available to students as retailers go bust and restaurants and bars are losing business which is a very real problem at the moment. offers a solution to the problems of work now and employability later. The site enables students to search for part-time or fixed contract work which may be work experience for a future career or an easy job to help pay the rent now. Each student lists the skills they have so potential employers can register and search for students with the skills to fit the job they need doing. So far students have listed skills from hairdressing to bookkeeping and all that goes in between! The site is ideal for companies who only need staff for one-off or ad-hoc work or want a fresh, young-person’s perspective. Students are being trained with the latest technology about latest developments in their industry and because they are not yet fully qualified companies can make a saving on the price of the job. Students can get work in the holidays or on a part-time basis to help fund their studies and improve their CV and by doing work relevant to their studies they should be able to earn a better wage than pulling a pint at the SU Bar.

The BBC article concludes that, ‘Mr Gilder said: "It's grades and student welfare suffering - that can't be healthy."’ And Mr Gilder is absolutely right but until the Government or the Universities help to do something about it there is still