New system of classifying BA degrees proposed

Joanna Taylor 19 January 2017

The University Education Committee has asked for students’ opinions on a proposed change to how BA Tripos degrees are classified.

Under the new proposals, a cumulative classification would be given, although this would not be considered the degree’s overall ‘rank’.

Different years of Tripos would also continue to carry different weightings. The model for which years of Tripos are most significant is currently being considered. Possible models are a 50/50 or 33/66 split between second and third year, a 20/30/50 split between all three years, or for third year to carry the entirety of a degree’s weighting.

The Careers Service is said to welcome the change as Cambridge’s current unique system of classification, in which each Part of Tripos is self-contained, confuses employers and has led in some cases to job offers being withdrawn when a student’s credentials have been checked.

Cambridge is currently the only university in the UK not to give out an overall degree classification.

The Education Committee foresees both benefits and possible problems with the new system they are proposing. In support of the possible changes, the Committee notes that a cumulative system could help to ease the pressure of third year and create a more consistent ranking process across different faculties.

However, they have also raised concerns such as the possibility of reduced willingness to get involved with extra-curricular activities in first and second years.

Roberta Huldisch, CUSU Education Officer, commented that “issuing a cumulative classification, in addition to the current system of classing each year of the Tripos separately, would bring our practice in line with what the world beyond Cambridge already does and understands, while preserving Cambridge’s historical particularity.

“It is, in my view, a fundamentally sensible and uncontroversial idea.”

CUSU will be passing on students’ views whilst decisions are made.

These proposals come amidst fears over “grade inflation” as classifications, particularly those of BA degrees, have shot up in recent years with record numbers of firsts being awarded.

The Cambridge Student awaits comment from the University.