New OfS investigations to examine credibility of degrees

The Office for Students (OfS) has opened investigations at three higher education providers to examine the reasons for sharp increases in the rates of students being awarded first class and upper second class honours degrees.

New OfS investigations to examine credibility of degrees

This follows the publication earlier this year of analysis which shows that the proportion of first class degrees awarded in England has more than doubled, from 15.7 per cent in 2010-11 to 37.9 per cent in 2020-21. These proportions have become a focus for public and sector concern even before the pandemic, with steady increases in the rates of students awarded firsts and 2:1s for more than a decade.   

The investigations will examine the providers’ compliance with condition B4 of the OfS’s regulatory framework. Condition B4 requires universities and colleges to assess students effectively, and to award qualifications that are credible compared to those granted previously, and that are based on the knowledge and skills of students. Grades should not be inflated so that the same level of student achievement is rewarded with higher degree classifications.  

The OfS’s decision to open these investigations means that the OfS has identified potential concerns that require further scrutiny at the three providers. The fact that the OfS is conducting these investigations should not be interpreted as indicating that any form of wrongdoing has actually taken place in any of the three providers concerned.  

The OfS is not naming the universities and colleges under investigation at this stage. However, we expect to publish further details in due course, as our investigations progress.  


  1. The investigations were opened on 31 August 2022. 
  2. Read our recent Insight brief. 
Published 02 September 2022

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