English students at the University of York have expressed concern about the way that the Department releases final degree classifications, saying it increases anxiety.
Some English students were said to be “mortified” when they were told their final degree classifications would be released in this way, with one student saying: “I didn’t see a single positive reaction in a Facebook page of [around] 400 people.”
The English Department were keen to emphasise that the lists of final degree classifications were “done… anonymously by exam number [and] arranged in strict exam number order”, adding: “There is no way that these can be linked to students.”
However, Megan Ollerhead, a third year English student who recently completed her degree, said: “I think the thing is not so much people being able to match results to individuals (although that would be perfectly possible and therefore it’s kind of dodgy), it’s more about the fact that we were forced to compare ourselves with the rest of our year group. It’s a really anxious time for most people, especially if like me you were on the borderline between grades… Being forced to see how you did compared to others is pretty unhelpful, especially in a subject like English where the courses are so individuated and you can write on whatever you like within the scope of each module.”
On the other hand, Anna Henley, who also recently finished her English degree, said: “I didn’t think it was a problem at all. As it was listed by exam number, anonymity was retained. I think the listing is needed, especially in a subject that is so subjective such as English Literature as it shows that the top grades were actually given. [I have] no qualms with it whatsoever.”
The English Department told Nouse that they released this year’s degree classifications “as [they] have done every year”, adding: “This year departments were even encouraged to release their own anonymous lists in order to relieve the pressure on e:Vision at a very busy time. We have never had a complaint about this practice before and in fact students have been happy to get their degree classifications as soon as possible. However, we are happy to listen to students, and if our student reps next year tell us that they want us to discontinue this practice, then we will of course do so.”
The English Department were also keen to stress that only degree classifications and not individual module marks were made accessible to the entire year, although other departments release students’ module results in the same way. A second year languages student, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I think the way the languages department release their marks is terrible. As it is a small course, with only around 30 people studying French in one year, and fewer for Spanish and German, it is quite easy to tell whose mark is whose when you can see everyone else’s. Why can’t they just put them on students individual eVision pages? It doesn’t exactly help with results stress when you can compare your mark with everyone else’s so easily.”