Official statistic

Key performance measure 18

Students achieving 1sts

37.7%

Proportion in 2020-21


We are considering target setting as part of our review of our key performance measures

What does this show?

We want to make sure that universities and colleges assess students effectively and award qualifications that are credible compared to those granted previously and are based on the knowledge and skills of students. The same level of student achievement should not be rewarded with higher degree classifications over time.

This measure shows the percentage of students achieving 1sts over time. Where this reveals that more students achieve 1sts, further analysis can be used to work out if this is warranted given their overall achievements (see our report: 'Analysis of degree classifications over time'.)

The proportion of students achieving 1sts increased by over six percentage points between 2018-19 and 2019-20. The proportion increased by a further 1.8 percentage points between 2019-20 and 2020-21.

The proportion of graduates achieving a 1st increasing every year since 2010-11 has resulted in reductions in the proportions receiving 2:1s and 2:2s or below (see note below).  

The proportion of graduates receiving a 2:1 increased from 51.3 per cent in 2010-11 to a high of 52.8 per cent in 2013-14. Since 2013-14 the proportion of 2:1s has dropped each year to 46.3 per cent in 2020-21.

The proportion of graduates receiving a 2:2 or below has been dropping every year from 33.0 per cent in 2010-11 to 16.1 per cent in 2020-21. Since 2015-16, a larger proportion of graduates have received a 1st than a 2:2 or below.

Note: The group '2:2s or below' includes classifications of honours other than 1sts and 2:1s. It does not include unclassified degree awards. This is the group ‘OTH_HONOURS’ in our field IPDODEGCLASS. For further detail see our institutional performance measures technical documentation.

Degree classifications across time

Impact of coronavirus pandemic on assessment and classifications

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of providers made changes to assessment and classification arrangements to ensure students were not disadvantaged by the impact of the pandemic in 2019-20 and to a lesser extent in 2020-21.

Providers did not adopt a single approach. As a result, the impact of these changes will have varied from provider to provider.

It is not possible to determine the extent to which these actions by providers may have influenced the large increase in the size of KPM 18 between 2018-19 and 2019-20 and the further increase in 2020-21.

Further information

The measure shows the percentage of students achieving 1st class honours degrees.

  • Frequency: Annual
  • Population: Full-time (or apprenticeship) undergraduate degree (first degree and degrees including a postgraduate component) graduates domiciled in the UK obtaining classified honours degrees from higher education providers in England
  • Data Sources: Individual student data from HESA and the Individualised Learner Record from ESFA
  • Available: March.

Updates

Update to include data for academic year 2020-21.

Update to include data for academic year 2019-20 and small change to population used to derive measure (apprenticeship students are now included in the population to fully align with our access and participation data dashboard definitions).

Update to include data for academic year 2018-19.

Update to include data for academic year 2017-18 and change to population used to derive measure (change from England domiciled graduates to UK domiciled graduates).

Feedback

If you have any queries about the statistics published as KPM 18, please contact William Rimington at [email protected].

If you have any queries about our overall approach or on individual measures, please contact Josh Fleming at [email protected].

Published 13 September 2018
Last updated 24 March 2022
24 March 2022
Annual update and addition of chart including different classifications
11 March 2021
Annual update and change to population
15 February 2021
Availability changed to March
19 November 2020
Link updated for the report on analysis of degree classifications
02 April 2020
Annual update
21 March 2019
Annual update and change to population used

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