GPA: An alternative to degree classifications?
It is well recognised that there are limitations and issues in the use of the UK honours degree classification system (e.g. current grade classifications do not provide sufficient information to distinguish between graduates). The adoption of a single GPA system, as commonly used in many countries, could provide key benefits including a finer granularity of detail in a summative representation of student achievement than the current classification system, and helping to further engage students in their course of study.
The Higher Education Academy (HEA) is facilitating a national discussion on the use of a GPA system, as a possible addition or alternative to the honours degree classification system in UK higher education. The aims of the GPA programme of work are to:
- explore the potential use of a GPA model and the issues that arise through its use in a range of institutional contexts
- raise awareness and enhance understanding across and beyond the higher education sector of the issues relating to the potential adoption of GPA as a cumulative and summative measure of student achievement, ‘in tandem’ with, or as an alternative to, the honours degree classification system.
As part of this programme in 2013-14, the HEA is facilitating a GPA pilot involving a diverse group of 21 higher education providers from across the UK. Through this pilot work, these institutions are being supported to explore the use of a proposed GPA scale within their current context. Institutions are looking at key areas, including:
- the acceptability of the proposed scale in relation to institutional provision and its robustness in comparison with the current system
- preferred institutional approaches to progression weighting with GPA
- operational issues relating to the reporting of student results and dual running of GPA alongside degree classification.