On the 19th November 2018, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara tabled an Oral Question ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the review of the Teaching Excellence Framework is due to report and whether this review will include recommendations for judgements to be made on the change in the percentage of first class and upper second class degrees awarded by higher education institutions’. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, given concerns about the perceived grade inflation of degrees and the indications about including the degree grade element in the TEF awards process, can the Minister advise the House on the criteria for evaluating grade awards in the TEF process? When will HE institutions be informed about this, so that they can evaluate their procedures?
Viscount Younger of Leckie: The right reverend Prelate raises an important point. The Government are certainly aware of the grade inflation aspect, which is topical and controversial, but he will know that there is a distinction between grade inflation and grade improvement. Although there has been some increase in good degrees, which is likely to be attributable to students’ prior attainment, this is not the whole story. Some parts of the sector argue that that inflation is actually due to grade improvement. It is very difficult to separate grade improvement out from grade inflation, and this is something that Dame Shirley will be looking at.