The number of students achieving a First Class Honours degree has been found to vary greatly within different subjects at York that offer similar grade entry requirements upon initial acceptance.
Government figures from 2009/10 show that the disciplines of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Archaeology and Sociology have a similar median average UCAS scores for students – 340, 380 and 340 respectively; but upon graduating the proportion of students achieving a First is three times higher in the discipline of Electronics and Electrical Engineering.
Similarly, all three disciplines had a similar number of students accepted this year with an A* at A-Level – nine per cent in Electronics and 10 per cent and 11 per cent in Archaeology and Sociology respectively.
“We recognise the potential fir some departments to use a wider range of marks than others and this is being monitored”
While 35 per cent of students achieved a First Class Honours in Electronics, only eight per cent of students did in Sociology and six per cent in Archaeology despite students having similar entry scores across the three subjects.
This was level with disciplines such as English and Maths, at 33 per cent and 32 per cent, but their entry grades were much higher with the median UCAS entry score 480 for both and 68 per cent and 63 per cent of students achieved an A* at A-Level respectively.
The figures also showed a disparity across York with some subjects having a third of students achieving a First, but for disciplines such as Psychology the figure was only 14 per cent.
Graeme Osborn, YUSU Academic Affairs Officer, stated: “This is an issue that has been discussed at various levels in the university over the last couple of years.”
“It may be related to the differing teaching, learning and assessment requirements.”
A University spokesman commented: “We are aware that students in some disciplines perform at a higher level than in others. It is also true that students in some disciplines arrive with higher level entry qualifications which may be indicative of ability or potential on arrival. We also recognise the potential for some departments to use a wider range of marks than others, and this is being monitored by the Standing Committee on Assessment and Senate.”
At the University of Warwick, 30 per cent of students studying Electronics were awarded a First Class Honous degree but with a higher UCAS entry level at 420 points.
The University of York Department of Electronics declined to comment on the story and referred Nouse to the University Press Office.