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American grading system will shake up KU degrees

Kingston University will begin implementing the controversial US-style grade point average (GPA) marking system after taking part in a pilot study last year.

KU plans to be among the first universities in the country to take part in the new system that will make all three years of university count towards a student’s degree. This will make students become more involved in their classes, as all coursework will count towards their degree.

A spokesman for the University said: “The University is now exploring how the new system would work in practice and plans to start software testing next September, before it is implemented at a later date. We have already taken on board suggestions form students who were involved in our initial pilot study and are committed to ensuring they remain involved in the process moving forward.”

Kingston was part of the pilot study run by the Higher Education Academy last year to see if UK universities would adopt the US grading system.

The GPA system uses the marks students receive for all assignments during their three years of university. The grades ranging from an A+ to an F. These letter grades have number values ranging from a 4.0 to a 0.0. The GPA is then calculated by working out the grade points earned on the course versus the total points of the course.

The recommendation for universities to change the historic system of classifying degrees into firsts, 2:1s, 2:2s and thirds to the US system comes form the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis).

A spokesperson for the Bis said: “The GPA uses a 13-point scale and takes account of student performance during their course, not just in final exams. This can help to engage and motivate students to work hard throughout their course and give employers more granular information about student performance.”

The graph above shows how KU students will be graded once the GPA system will be introduced in the next academic year

The graph above shows how KU students will be graded once the GPA system will be introduced in the next academic year

The GPA system will give student marks for all their coursework they complete during the entire school year, including in-class assignments and exams. Mock exams however, would not count against a student’s GPA.

The system will also give employers more information on how the student did performance-wise during all three years of university instead of just heavily relying on their final exams and final years.

The new system will also create a new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) within universities. This will give students more information about the kind of tuition they will receive and their likely career prospects after graduating.

Universities UK president Dame Julia Goodfellow, said: “We must ensure that this exercise is not an additional burden for those teaching in our universities and that it provides useful information for students, parents and employers.”

But the TEP will also benefit universities since they will be able to raise their fees to keep up with inflation, if they are providing high quality teaching. But failing to meet these expectations will mean losing income.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “Our ambition is to drive up the quality of teaching in our universities to ensure students and taxpayers get value for money and employers get graduates with the skills they need.”

The higher education green paper, Fulfilling Our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice, is keen on protecting student’ interest, improving higher education access and demonstrating the importance of a university education.

Kingston University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Julius Weinberg said: “Higher education is about much more than teaching- it’s about developing self-motivated, lifelong learners. Part of the benefit of higher education is the breadth of exposure students get. We support students having more choice.”

While the whole system comes into effect, Kingston University will prepare for the gradual change that will begin some time during the next academic year and will affect incoming first years.

A Kingston spokesman said: “As part of the process we will be looking at any support required for staff and students to help them find out more about the system and how it will work.”

About Luisa Barrientos

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