Degree Outcomes Statement
Universities in England and Wales are expected to publish a Degree Outcomes Statement as specified by the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) Statement of Intent to protect the value of UK degrees.
Our Degree Outcomes Statement outlines the degree classification profile and confirms that our degree outcomes are reviewed annually, through the University’s academic quality system, ensuring that our academic standards are appropriately set and maintained with reference to external expectations.
Cardiff University's degree classification profile
Our degree classification profile is presented below and includes degree classification data for undergraduate students achieving classified degrees at Level 6 (Bachelor) and Level 7 (Integrated Master) as defined by the Framework of Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ).
The data shows that there has been an increase in the proportion of students attaining good degrees (1st and 2-1) over the five-year period (2014/15 to 2018/19), from 78% to 83%. The increase of 5% points is broadly similar to the sector increase of 4%, and has remained unchanged between 2017/18 and 2018/19 (at 83%).
The data indicates that whilst there is some variability in the proportion of students achieving 1st class degrees between our academic schools, direct comparisons with other higher education institutions are not reliable as some of our academic schools do not fully align with the nationally-defined discipline categories. However, the proportion of Cardiff University students achieving 1st class degrees is generally typical of the variability across discipline categories in the higher education sector.
Analysis of good degrees (1st and 2:1) by student characteristic
Analysis of good degree outcomes (1st and 2:1) by student characteristic presented below, shows the percentage point variance (+ and -) between students with specified characteristic compared with the total graduating population.
Table 1: Good degrees (1st and 2:1): Variance (+ and -) by student characteristic
POLAR 4 (Quintile 1 & 2)
Our data indicates that whilst males continue to achieve slightly lower degree outcomes than the total graduating population, there is little variation for students with disabilities and those from a widening participation background (POLAR4 - low-participation areas). The data highlights however, the significantly lower outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students.
The BAME Awarding Gap Group is combining the evidence from the #ClosingtheGap report, and qualitative University data to develop an action plan which will be confirmed in 2020/21. The action plan will include best practice from across the sector and will be themed to consider the University culture, admissions, curriculum content and learning environment, student support and cases and extracurricular activities. The measurable outcome will be to eradicate the BAME award gap long-term with an aim to reduce the gap to less than 5% by 2025.
Assessment and marking practices
Our academic quality system, detailed in our Academic Regulations and associated policies and procedures, ensures that all qualifications of Cardiff University are of an appropriate academic standard. In addition, our regulations and policies confirm our assessment and marking practices.
A Quality Enhancement Review (QER) undertaken by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) in March 2020 confirmed that the University’s academic quality system meets the following requirements:
- the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) Part 1 for internal quality assurance;
- the relevant baseline regulatory requirements of the Quality Assessment Framework for Wales which include:
- The Framework for Higher Education Qualification (FHEQ)
- The Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW)
- The expectations and the core and common practices of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education.
Our programme development and approval and re-validation processes ensure that our expectations of graduates in disciplines are aligned with the QAA subject benchmark statements and where relevant, Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) requirements.
External examiners are appointed and are full members of Examining Boards. External examiners submit annual reports and are asked to comment on the academic standard of awards and, where appropriate, submit recommendations. We publish the reports of external examiners and the University’s response.
We have adopted and made available to our academic staff the Advanced HE training to external examiners. The training supports our academic staff, who are members of Examining Boards, to have an enhanced understanding of the expected oversight of academic standards.
Council is the governing body of the University and is responsible for the efficient management and conduct of all aspects of the affairs of the University. Senate is the chief academic authority and is responsible, on behalf of the Council, for determining educational policy and regulations. Academic Standards and Quality Committee a sub-committee of Senate, has primary responsibility, explicitly delegated to it by Senate, for oversight of the standards of the University’s awards.
Council receives an annual quality report, from Senate and the Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC) on the operation of the University’s academic quality system. The report, amongst other things, provides Council with the profile of degree outcomes, assurance from external examiners relating to academic standards, and confirming how the University has continued to set and maintained academic standards. The annual quality report is the basis upon which Council receives assurances of the academic standards of awards.
One of the main processes of the academic quality system, and which informs the annual quality report, is Annual Review and Enhancement (ARE). The ARE is undertaken by academic schools, reporting to ASQC via the Colleges, to ensure that expectations and requirements relating to academic standards and the quality of the student experience are satisfied and that there are plans for enhancement. A key element of ARE is the review of degree outcomes, including the reports from Examining Boards and external examiners, to ensure that academic standards are maintained.
Our degree classification algorithm is detailed in our academic regulations and calculates a final mark to determine the classification of degrees. The final mark is the combined average of the module marks contributing to the final award, weighted according to the level and credit value of the modules (details of weightings are included in the academic regulations).
In addition, if a final mark is within 2% points of a higher degree classification band, a higher classification is awarded if the stipulated number of credits at the specified levels have been achieved in the higher classification band (details of the number of credits to be achieved are included in the academic regulations).
Our degree classification algorithm has remained unchanged during the past five years and has been in use since 2013/14. Plans for review have been scheduled for the 2021/22 academic session and will make reference to the Principles for Effective Algorithm Design report.
Teaching practices and learning resources
Key enhancements to support learning and teaching are:
- Establishment of a Centre for Education Support and Innovation to provide support and capacity that harnesses and drives innovative pedagogical developments, challenging the status quo, and developing a wider community of practice for learning and teaching.
- Completion of significant campus developments, with a major capital investment programme to update and upgrade our core teaching spaces ensuring that learning and teaching benefit from spaces that are modern, comfortable, flexible, and technologically enabled, which has enabled different pedagogic styles.
- Teaching event capture technology made routinely available across our learning estate, which, as well as recording lectures, also supports innovative learning and teaching practice including podcasting, flipped learning, live webcasts, delivery of feedback to students, the capture of off-site teaching, and student-led recording. It provides a valuable, inclusive tool for supporting students with additional learning support needs.
- Development of guidance and resource to support staff undertake peer review and reflection of learning and teaching at least once each academic year to enhance students’ learning experience and allow effective practice to be identified and shared.
- Introduced a Cardiff Award to enable students to develop key employability skills and attributes, and to be able to communicate effectively their strengths to employers.
The Transforming Assessment Group has developed an action plan to promote assessment literacy, including ensuring markers and students have a shared understanding of criteria and standards.