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Why doesn’t anybody know how to calculate my degree?

By River Reporter Mar 1, 2012

Why is figuring out our marks so difficult? Should KU implement a better system in calculating our degrees?

Myriam Dijck<--break->

Maths has never been my strongest subject. With the simplest sums I would be the first to grab the closest calculator, ask someone else or simply give up. In this I am sure I am not alone.

For years, universities have been complaining that the level of maths of students is barely acceptable. So our survey that almost three in four students don’t have a clue how to work out their grades may not be a big surprise.

If, like me, you are doing a degree that doesn’t involve extensive number-crunching, then having terrible math skills isn’t really going to affect you during your course. And those GCSE sums are long forgotten.

Something is terribly wrong

However, having no idea  what degree I am expected to get is not just down to not knowing how to add up one and one. If teachers can’t even tell us how to work it out, there is something terribly wrong.

If there is one thing that students care about (apart from getting drunk and going partying) it is what mark of degree we will get in the end. After all, that is why we are working ourselves into tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt– so that at the end of the three years we get a degree that will get us a good job.

The confusion starts with the grades themselves. Instead of getting one straight-forward result for your exams, the marks are expressed in letter grades, percentage marks, modules points and band classifications. Why can’t we just get one system instead of this hopeless mix and match of digits and letters?

Systems constantly changing

Added to that are teachers who are saying contradictory things (or don’t tell us anything at all), and it seems like there are dozens of different ways of calculating undergraduate degrees in various departments. Inconveniently for everyone the calculating systems are constantly changing too.

At one point four fellow course mates and I were shouting at each other about how to do the degree maths. We had all heard different things from our teachers, department heads, course administrators, and we all thought we were right. After a while we ended up being annoyed, confused and no clearer about our grades.

While we are the ones affected by this mess, it is not only our responsibility to keep track of it. The university should do a better job at explaining how to work it out, not only to teachers, but most importantly to students.

Not high school anymore

Knowing that a first class degree is still within your reach or you’re close to a third could be a massive motivation to rise above yourself and do your best at your studies. This is not high school anymore where your results don’t really have any effect on your career. This is university, and what we do here will affect our future life.

If putting your social life on a back burner for three months will help you get accepted onto that Masters programme you always wanted, or land you that amazing job, then for me the choice is easy. Having a good degree can just give you that edge over other graduates, especially when job opportunities are sparse.

We not only have the right to know what these years at Kingston are actually worth; being clearer about your marks, and knowing your options could actually lead to better results for students.

I don’t think that I should be punished for being unskilled in maths during my university degree. I don’t study to be a mathematician and there are only a few who do. But the least I would expect from my teachers is information about what I am on track to get to motivate me to get the first degree I want.

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