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A new report from HEFCE examines how degree outcomes from 2013-14 vary between different groups of graduates, after accounting for other student and course characteristics [Note 1]. This report adds to a growing body of work by HEFCE analysing the outcomes of graduates from English higher education institutions.

The report also looks at the proportion of first and upper second class degrees between 2010-11 and 2013-14. This has seen an annual increase of around one and a half percentage points, around half of which can be explained by changes in student characteristics.The remainder is therefore due to other factors, which may include institutional effects and other factors such as changes in learning, teaching and retention practices or students’ own study behaviour following the introduction of higher fees.

Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive, HEFCE, said:

‘Once again, robust analysis shows persistent unexplained differences in degree outcomes for particular groups of students. Students who are disabled, or from a disadvantaged background, or from an ethnic minority group, continue to achieve lower degree outcomes than their non-disabled, white, advantaged peers. HEFCE’s recently published report [Note 2] sets out how we intend to work with the higher education sector to address these disparities, building on the evidence we have gathered on their causes [Note 3].

‘If we are to maximise success for all students and fully meet the Government’s ambitions as set out in its productivity plan – which recognises that “productivity growth has gone hand in hand with rising human capital” – we must ensure that all students regardless of background or characteristics fulfil their potential and achieve the degree outcomes they deserve.’ 

Notes

  1. ‘Differences in degree outcomes: The effect of subject and student characteristics’ (HEFCE 2015/21).
  2. ‘Delivering opportunities for students and maximising their success: evidence for policy and practice’ (HEFCE 2015/14).
  3. ‘Causes of differences in student outcomes’, Kings’ College London, University of Manchester and the ARC network.