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Grade inflation is a trend over time of better grades being awarded in educational qualifications that is not matched by real improvements in learning. Grade inflation is a direct function of declining educational standards.
Extensive research conducted and published on this website shows that there has been significant grade inflation in both the University and Institute of Technology sectors in the Republic of Ireland. In 1994 the percentage of first class honours awarded across the Universities was 7%. By 2005 that figure had jumped to 17%.
In the Institutes of Technology over the same period, despite a steep decline in the CAO points of entrants, there was a 52% increase in the award of first class honours degrees. Thus, weaker and weaker students have been entering the sector, only to receive ever improving grades.
Grade inflation in Irish higher education has been driven by institutions prioritising student numbers and growth at the expense of educational standards. Weaknesses inherent in the assessment process at third level have enabled an increasing divergence between academic performance and grades awarded.
Grade inflation undermines the status of qualifications and misleads the stakeholders in education, such as students, employers and policy-makers. It inevitably results in a continuing decline in the quality of education, with serious long-term implications for the competitiveness of the Irish economy.
The Network for Irish Educational Standards is a web based forum founded in response to this growing threat to the quality of our educational qualifications and the educational system as a whole.
The full details of the research findings and related documents can be downloaded from this website.
In March 2010 the issue of grade inflation became hugely prominent in Ireland following complaints to the Minister of Education and Science by multinational CEO's about the standards of Irish graduates. Some of the documents and our response to these developments can be found here.