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NUI to be dissolved

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Comments

  • #2


    It came across and it comes across that if you're not Trinity or the very least UCD, your Degree will be worthless.
    There are two largely unrelated issues being discussed here. The first is the question of degree grade inflation, which is actually off topic.

    Given the data that donegalfella gave earlier, this will affect pretty much everyone who has an Irish degree, principally those who have been awarded degrees more recently, but ultimately everyone will end up being, to some degree, tarred by the same brush.

    The second issue relates to the abolition of the NUI and its affect on the graduates of the various colleges, to which I posted earlier in the thread.

    Within Ireland this will make very little difference to most graduates. Outside Ireland, without being able to point to a body such as the NUI on your degree, the reputation of your alma mater alone will have to speak for itself. Unfortunately, outside of TCD and, to a much lesser degree, UCD, no one has heard of any other Irish college outside of Ireland.

    So, to answer your question; the latter issue will make your degree somewhat more difficult to 'sell' outside Ireland and the former will make everyone's primary degree will become worthless in time, forcing us all to do postgrads to keep in the game.

    The days of having a long term career on a bachelors degree alone are all but over.


  • #2


    Scofflaw wrote: »
    one cannot assume that standards are either rising or falling, although evidently something has changed.
    Absolutely correct.
    I am not a university student anymore. I pay income tax, I contribute towards my pension, I work strange and uncompromising hours when my college friends are still in bed hungover, grumbling about falling standards compared to "my time" would be one sweet pleasure, but I just don't see any supporting facts.
    My view would be that in the absence of other evidence, we should look (a) at the quite well-reported grade inflation elsewhere (such as the US), and not assume that Ireland constitutes some kind of sui generis which bucks yet another global trend; and (b) motive - is there a clear motive for universities to engage in grade inflation without any corresponding increase in academic ability?
    I think these are the strongest arguments made for the evidence of grade inflation so far in this thread and this thread's predecessor.

    On the other hand, a report linked to earlier in this thread showed the minutes of a Trinity College Academics meeting where an external examiner had remarked on the low proportion of first class hons. degrees awarded compared with our UK counterparts.
    Both of those factors point to the view that Irish grade inflation is most likely the same phenomenon as elsewhere - once a degree is seen primarily in terms of its job market potential, and potential entrants and sponsors begin to look at universities in the light of post-graduation employment prospects, there is a competitive advantage to be gained for each institution in giving better grades to their graduates, followed by pressure for other institutions to 'keep up'.
    That is certainly a possibility, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were the case in some situations - nobody wants to be seen to be failing half of the graduating year.
    Now this will vary hugely depending on the nature of the course at hand. In science, mathematics, engineering and medicine, it is very difficult to "swing" a student's results up. Students are answering questions of fact, as opposed to dealing what would appear to be a largely more subjective field like literature or philosophy in the arts.
    That suggests, in turn, that anyone claiming the rise in good grades reflects better pedagogic methods or a brighter/harder-working student body, should really be required to demonstrate this by rather more than mere reference to the rising grades themselves.
    Well, again, I'm not advocating any one position here. I think it is a fact that academic facilities have improved enormously, but would I be willing to put money on that being the cause of better grades? Maybe not.

    There is not one single position here that should be taken as fact without the corroboratory evidence.
    You cannot advocate a change in educational policy, at cost to the taxpayer without (a) proving that a clear problem exists, explaining the causes of that problem (b) the problem is linked to a specific remedy.

    So far we have the alleged problem: basically better grades coming out of university. There is no clear link to standards falling or standards rising - so do you want the Department to pour in funds to an already money-guzzling system without any clear evidence.

    To the people who keep referring to Martin O Grady (lecturer in tralee) and the campaign he has formed with two others, can I ask, why are these papers not printed in any journals? Why do they quote no other Irish academics but themselves? Why do they not bear any reference to Tralee IT? And should we really take as unbiased, "research" that is actually part of a campaign? A first year student in just about any course should be able to tell you the answer to that is a large NO.
    Can you really compare CAO points in 1963 with CAO points today? The curriculum has been changed radically, and many subjects have been made easier—ask anybody who did honours maths back in the 1980s, for instance.
    That's like some old lady going on about the evils of microwave food. You know what wholesome food they all ate when old ladies were young? Tinned food.
    Firstly, people will always be nostalgic about how hard it was for them back in the day and are prone to exaggerate how hard they had it.
    Secondly, how can they compare?
    How can you compare a maths curriculum after about 10 - 20 years with any degree of objectivity? Especially if you have gone down the maths or maths teaching route - and parametric equations are now the doddle that they certainly weren't when you were seventeen.
    This means that 66 percent of graduates are getting one of the top two possible grades—and you have to be in the bottom third of your graduating class to get below a 2:1. This would have been patently ridiculous to anyone who went through the system before the mid-1990s.
    So would the internet, blackberries, online lectures, and the idea of Trinity's Humanities Departments being in the World Top 30. There are many possibilities to explain this rise, falling standards being only one of them.

    You quoted a psychology lecturer (from Tralee IT) who said businesses are not taking Irish degrees seriously. What business leader has actually come out and said this?
    nesf wrote:
    Base funding is student numbers based, additional claims can be made for lab equipment etc... Failing students is a problem because pressure is put on lecturers to pass them from further up the chain of command.
    But why would there be? Like I said, the university gets the same funds if the government pays or if the student pays for his repeat tuition fees himself. In effect the university gets an extra year of tuition fees. Explain why would they bother applying that pressure to not fail students for any sort of financial gain?


  • #2


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  • #2


    There are two largely unrelated issues being discussed here. The first is the question of degree grade inflation, which is actually off topic.

    Given the data that donegalfella gave earlier, this will affect pretty much everyone who has an Irish degree, principally those who have been awarded degrees more recently, but ultimately everyone will end up being, to some degree, tarred by the same brush.

    The second issue relates to the abolition of the NUI and its affect on the graduates of the various colleges, to which I posted earlier in the thread.

    Within Ireland this will make very little difference to most graduates. Outside Ireland, without being able to point to a body such as the NUI on your degree, the reputation of your alma mater alone will have to speak for itself. Unfortunately, outside of TCD and, to a much lesser degree, UCD, no one has heard of any other Irish college outside of Ireland.

    So, to answer your question; the latter issue will make your degree somewhat more difficult to 'sell' outside Ireland and the former will make everyone's primary degree will become worthless in time, forcing us all to do postgrads to keep in the game.

    The days of having a long term career on a bachelors degree alone are all but over.

    I think the days of having a long term career on a single Bachelors Degree have been gone for a while now in my opinion. Most people seem to stay on, at least within the people I know of myself, to do at least a Masters. That's my intention anyway. I'm 24 and I have a long road ahead of me educationally speaking.


  • #2


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  • #2


    I think the days of having a long term career on a single Bachelors Degree have been gone for a while now in my opinion.
    You started seeing it a bit in the late eighties, but it really came into its own in the ninties as business and marketing PgDips started appearing, many EU funded at first.

    Twenty years ago very few graduates felt the need to do (or did) postgrads, with the exception of professional ones (so as to qualify as a solicitor, barrister, accountant, etc.) and you generally only did a masters if you wanted to become an academic - although the some of the sciences were a little different in that postgrads were already popular due to the quasi-academic nature of a lot of the jobs.
    This post has been deleted.
    Yeah, I remember a chap who wanted to do a masters but got a third and so had to do an MAQ for a year.


  • #2


    This post has been deleted.
    My point is simply that every generation of older people always seem to complain how things were much more difficult in their day. People have a tendancy to idealise the past.
    You might want to read this post by someone who has been a secondary-level maths teacher for the past 26 years.
    I'm not enormously familiar with the leaving cert personally and I'm convinced it's a different debate altogether, since there is no doubt that not enough importance is placed in science and mathematics.

    But why do people keep posting statements and presenting them as evidence of something? It isn't. It's an opinion and opinions come with dozens of warning bells.
    For one, If you are teaching a subject for twenty six years, you could teach it in your sleep and it stops becoming a challenge. It becomes easy. And if you're finding it easier and easier, and students are finding it hard all along, then you may very well believe that students are getting dumber.
    I'm happy to take his word for it.
    Well, with respect, if you're willing to accept a given possibility based upon opinion without factual evidence, in my opinion you're making a foolish judgement
    The Internet was very much a commercial reality by the mid-1990s, and some academics had been using it for pedagogical purposes long before that.
    Now this is ridiculous. You cannot possibly ignore the fact that the internet, internet based resources, as well as journal access, Blackboard and online lectures are potentially serious contributors to improvements in educational standards.

    Can you answer honestly, based on academic resources and the improvements brought about in facilities, would you be a better resourced science or engineering student in 1980 or better resourced in 2010?


  • #2


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  • #2


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    In fact the decreasing difficulty of Leaving Cert mathematics can be kind of shown statistically. "Back in the day" students had to know a substantial amount of proofs, 30 - 50 I think. In my Leaving I only had to know 10 or so. And then there is the farce that are the new log tables. LC students no longer have to learn off any formula - they're now neatly to be found in a relativity thick book that contains everything from the -b formula for solving quadratics to all the formula for sequences and series. "Dumbed down" is the only word for it.

    Anecdotally, everyone knows that the hardest LC questions are to be found from the mid-90's. As the years progress the questions get easier.

    LC all comes back to the points race. No ones interested in subjects anymore, they are interested in the amount of points they can yield from that subject. And when grades start slipping due to lack of work, the solution is to make the test easier. I wonder how long the trend will continue before someone realizes that the A1 honours maths students arent as great as their Certs would seem to imply.


  • #2


    From a current 3rd levels student's perspective I would say that the availability of high quality notes for each subject being made available for us to download rather then having to take down our own notes is a big advantage.

    I have terrible handwriting and can be quite disorganised at times so I have no doubt that my grades would have suffered if I had had to go through what my course would have been like ten years ago.

    Also science and engineering courses are more heavily weighted to continuous assessment nowadays, lab reports, assignments etc.

    I still would be surprised if grade inflation isn't taking place though.


  • #2


    This post has been deleted.
    Demonstrable, where? Documented, where?

    You have shown that people are getting better grades. This has been done to death. Where is the link to dropping standards?
    That's fair enough. So you'd agree then that you're not really in a position to comment authoritatively on the history of higher-level maths one way or another? Certainly not more authoritatively than someone who has been teaching the subject for 26 years?
    Hang on, when I say I'm not enormously familiar with it, I'm talking about it in the context of academic papers and OECD reports.
    I sat my leaving Cert in 2004 and I can still recall both the huge amount of effort I put in to get my results, and the effort my teachers put into those results as well.
    But no, that doesn't give me any unbiased, objective insight into the exams evolution, and the same goes for teachers. It's just my personal experience, nothing more. It's very biased and very subjective.
    Every maths teacher I know concedes that the subject has been significantly dumbed down in recent decades, particularly with the 1994 revision of the curriculum. They can't all be wrong, surely?
    Who know? We don't have any surveys, any reports, any external inspections. Facts aren't built on staff room conversations about how things used to be back in the day.
    Yes, certainly, you would be a better-resourced student. But does that mean you would be a better student?
    For goodness' sake I'm not suggesting that. I'm saying that this is a possibility you must accept. You cannot simply say 'well grades are up, the reason is falling standards.' How can you not see how that is totally illogical?

    I am always very sceptical about the motives of people who seem to have reached a decision on something before ever having seen the hard, impartial evidence.
    Newton, Gauss, and Einstein didn't have BlackBerries or online journals at their fingertips, after all, and they managed to do some pretty impressive stuff.
    That's hardly relevant. The point is that students are far better resourced than thirty, twenty, ten years ago. I think that merits serious consideration.
    The more students are connected to every conceivable academic resource through the Internet, the worse their research, writing, and argumentative skills become. Don't ask me why this is—I don't know. But again, it's an observation I've seen made repeatedly among my colleagues.
    You mean the better the resource facilities, the worse the research? That seems to be against the consensus as I understand it, but then I hopefully know better than to base my opinions on others' opinions.


  • #2


    That's hardly relevant. The point is that students are far better resourced than thirty, twenty, ten years ago. I think that merits serious consideration.

    It also involves establishing a causal link between the newly available resources and better academic performance - and not begging the question of what constitutes "better" resources!

    The Internet doesn't make anything newly available to me now that would have been particularly relevant for the degree I took. It offers essentially the same content (largely, academic papers) far more neatly packaged. It also offers distractions - and by that I mean things that look like they teach me something, but don't. It isn't a rigorous environment, and doesn't encourage rigour - it encourages, I would say, various forms of plagiarism, from the outright to the subtle.

    So there's a debate there as well, about whether the additional resources can really be called 'better' - and calling them 'better' presupposes that they improve pedagogy. Tsk.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


  • #2


    I feel compelled to add that the view that improved resources and/or methods is the cause of higher grades should be easy to test. Interestingly, it turns out that the process of 'improvement' in grades has not been a slow steady process. Instead, there are some extremely sharp rises over quite short periods:

    First class degrees awarded:

    Year |UCD |UCC |NUIG |TCD |NUIM |DCU |UL
    1994|9.4|6.5|7.4|6.8|1.5|9.5|7.2
    1995|10|6.7|9.4|7|2|8.7|7.6
    1996|8.1|7.6|9.1|6.5|1.8|7.5|8.9
    1997|9|7.7|10.4|7.5|1.3|9|10.1
    1998|8|8.6|8.8|8.1|3|12.1|8.2
    1999|9.4|8.8|10|7.6|4.5|12.2|8.8
    2000|10.6|10.1|10.2|7.8|4.3|13.1|10.1
    2001|10.5|11.1|11.7|10|5.1|15|10.5
    2002|11.7|12.3|16.3|9.1|8.7|13.7|10.1
    2004|13.2|15.9|14.8|13.9|11.1|20.6|11.7

    What educational innovation was introduced in 2002 that led, over the following couple of years, in virtually every Irish institution, to such large jumps in the numbers of Firsts?

    In TCD, what incredible innovation in pedagogic methods led to a jump in 2.1 degrees from 33.7% to 52.3% over two years?

    Year |UCD |UCC |NUIG |TCD |NUIM |DCU |UL
    1994|34.4|29.1|30.9|23.2|9.4|41.5|21.2
    1995|35.3|32.2|32.5|26|13.6|28.1|25
    1996|30.5|31.8|28.6|22.6|18.5|33.1|27
    1997|33.8|36.6|29.2|24.4|12.9|35.8|25.4
    1998|34.4|34.5|32.5|21.9|12|33.7|27.6
    1999|32.5|29.4|34.5|26.4|21.4|40.3|28.5
    2000|34|39.2|36.8|29.7|21.2|41.4|28.6
    2001|35.1|41.1|35.7|29.5|26.3|43.7|30.8
    2002|36.6|41.7|37.1|33.7|28.6|43.7|32.4
    2004|40.7|42.5|41|52.3|32.5|42.3|36.7


    How was all this managed, at a time when, according to the Conference of Heads of Irish Universities:
    When the abolition of fees is taken into account, direct state support per student for universities actually fell by €1,240 between 1995 and 2001. This, taken with the severe cutbacks in capital support in 2002 and 2003 and the pause in PRTLI funding, begins to paint a picture of a sector that is struggling to balance its national responsibilities and its international standing within a narrowing resource base. It is very far from the forefront of the world’s knowledge based economies.

    Amazing that a cutback in capital support in 2002 and 2003 led to a jump in the number of higher class degrees awarded! One would really expect the opposite effect.

    I recommend reading the whole report I've quoted from there. It does not paint a picture of universities accelerating into a bright new era of well-resourced students and new pedagogic methods:
    Impact of recent funding trends (2003)
    • Increased student:teacher ratios
    • Teaching budgets robbed to pay for research overheads
    • Sector expansion concentrated on low cost/high participation courses.
    • Out-of–date laboratories and equipment
    • Maintenance, administrative and infrastructural services have not kept pace with expansion.
    • Inadequate support services for access students.
    • Inability to comply with health and safety requirements
    • Cannot meet costs of implementing Quality Assurance Review recommendations
    • Cannot invest adequately in ICTs and other modern learning /teaching methodologies
    • Quality is severely compromised

    "Quality is severely compromised" - yet the number of First class degrees awarded rises. Hmm.

    Well, let's see if we can find anything else that might explain the change...here we go:
    Irish look to widen grading bands
    29 March 2002

    Four of the Irish republic's seven universities are likely to introduce a new marking scheme after a study showed that Irish students were marked harder than their counterparts in the United Kingdom.

    The four are the constituent universities of the National University of Ireland, which denies that the change would amount to "grade inflation".

    A confidential report was prepared for the senate of the NUI, whose registrar, John Nolan, said that external examiners - mostly from the UK - had indicated that there was scope for increasing the percentage of Irish graduates who received good honours degrees.

    Drawing on tables produced by The THES , the report showed that UK universities awarded more firsts and upper seconds than did Irish universities.

    To get a 2:2, an NUI graduate needs an aggregate of at least 55 per cent of the marks. The report proposes that the band be widened to 50-59 per cent. A 2:1 is awarded for an aggregate of 62 per cent, but the report recommends that the band be widened to 60-69 per cent.

    The NUI senate will make a final decision next month.

    Source

    Smoking gun, I'd say. The big jump follows a reassessment of Irish university marking standards to bring them into line with the UK. The UK, in turn, has ended up holding Parliamentary enquiries into UK grade inflation - the conclusions they reached were that there was definite evidence of such inflation, and that it was driven by the need to draw in overseas students to make up funding (see here, for example).

    So, I hope nobody minds if I conclude that the explanation of the most part, if not all, of the jump in higher degrees awarded by Irish universities is not the felicitous application of greater resources to a more diligent student body, but instead Irish universities simply following a road well-trodden - for market reasons - in the UK. Let's see whether the Irish universities were successful, shall we:
    Education Ireland, the Irish Government agency responsible for promoting export earnings from education, says that there were 25,319 international students in participating third level institutions in the academic year (2005/2006), representing a 10% increase from the previous year. Of these students, 15,196 (57%) were from non-EU countries. Student numbers from Europe have increased by 15% since 2005, compared to 7.5% for non-European students.

    The agency says that although it’s dominance is declining by an average of 1% - 2% per year, the university sector remains the most important, attracting 65% of all international students.

    ...

    Income from tuition fees provided by international students as reported by the participating colleges is €154 million for the 2005-2006 academic year. Other living expenses for students generate approximately €181 million bringing the total estimated revenue to over €335 million. Forty percent of this income comes from medical students.

    Well, the desired result appears to have been achieved - by achieving the desired results.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


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  • #2


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    I can't speak for other colleges but we were specifically told in UCC from the start that anything referenced to wikipedia and any other non academic website would not be accepted in assignments, essays etc. This policy seems to work as otherwise the Library would be empty and/or underused which it surely is not.


  • #2


    I can't speak for other colleges but we were specifically told in UCC from the start that anything referenced to wikipedia and any other non academic website would not be accepted in assignments, essays etc. This policy seems to work as otherwise the Library would be empty and/or underused which it surely is not.

    That's one of the reasons why it's very misleading to refer to the addition of things like the Web as "better resources". They're not necessarily "better", and calling them so begs the whole question of whether they do contribute to education - particularly since it turns out that there's no need to search for "better resources" to explain the greater number of higher degree classes. The NUI moved the marking bands down in 2002-3, and degrees classes awarded after that point aren't the same as those awarded before it.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


  • #2


    Scofflaw wrote: »
    That's one of the reasons why it's very misleading to refer to the addition of things like the Web as "better resources". They're not necessarily "better", and calling them so begs the whole question of whether they do contribute to education - particularly since it turns out that there's no need to search for "better resources" to explain the greater number of higher degree classes. The NUI moved the marking bands down in 2002-3, and degrees classes awarded after that point aren't the same as those awarded before it.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw

    The web does help as you can get access to books, if you know where to look, that you might not otherwise be able to get your hands on in the library. I've resorted to this method myself when having to do various assignments.


  • #2


    Scofflaw wrote: »
    I feel compelled to add that the view that improved resources and/or methods is the cause of higher grades should be easy to test.
    I think it is measurable to some extent but I'm not totally convinced about your interpretation of the figures you quoted:
    the process of 'improvement' in grades has not been a slow steady process. Instead, there are some extremely sharp rises over quite short periods... What educational innovation was introduced in 2002 that led, over the following couple of years, in virtually every Irish institution, to such large jumps in the numbers of Firsts?
    Now the issue here isn't what happened in 2002 as one year in itself.

    As well as improving library, laboratory facilities and academic rankings, students who graduated in 2002 and thereabouts were probably among the first batch of students to have regular, mainstream internet access at home and in college over the previous few years, had experienced all of the benefits of this in a way that previous students may not have typically enjoyed.
    Sure, the internet was 'around' in for the class of 2000, but these people - who, remember, entered college in 1996 probably didn't have a huge amount of reliance on it and things like online publishing and online teaching were far, far less advanced insofar as they existed at all.

    So it isn't so much what was introduced in 2002, it's how students who entered college from about 1998 onwards had improved facilities from thereon in, and the facilities continue to improve year on year (one hopes).

    Does this mean grade inflation doesn't happen? Absolutely not. I am convinced there are over generous examiners out there, I may have even been the beneficiary of some of them - I don't think myself qualified enough to say nor is it relevant on an individual basis.

    Now basically all Scofflaw has provided is evidence of increased grades. But he does however post an important question: what technological, academic and resource or laboratory facilities have been improved in the last few years, and is it in line with grades. This is the most pertinant question of the whole debate on grade inflation in my opinion, and is difficult to address.
    Personally, as a recent enough graduate, I'm not totally convinced that the advances have been all that superlative, how could I be? But I definitely think the issue needs to be investigated. Judging it based on a premature conclusion would be a mistake.

    I wonder if the results were plummeting at the same rate, would some posters be as quick in proposing that educational standards are rising?
    In TCD, what incredible innovation in pedagogic methods led to a jump in 2.1 degrees from 33.7% to 52.3% over two years?
    Yes I noticed that statistic as well, it does seem pretty startling and totally out of kilter with other universities for that year, and indeed out of kilter with itself in previous years. That is definitely a cause for raised eyebrows.
    Amazing that a cutback in capital support in 2002 and 2003 led to a jump in the number of higher class degrees awarded! One would really expect the opposite effect.
    Yes but in fairness the heads of universities are on a continuous campaign for extra funding and I don't think we can take them as unbiased; that figure was adjusted and it's not really clear what they adjusted it for.
    The big jump follows a reassessment of Irish university marking standards to bring them into line with the UK.
    Well hang on now, you are wrong here.

    That article is seven years old and what the journalist said was likely to happen, didn't.
    A 2.2. in the UK is anything over 50%. This is also the case in Trinity College Dublin today as it was then.

    However, If I got less than 50% in my degree I would have failed the year - a pass is over 50% and a 2.2. is from 60% - 64%.

    In other words, what they call a 2.2. in my course at UCD is called a 2.1. in Trinity College. UCD in general call a 2.2. 60%+

    So you see that applying uniform rules here is difficult. The article you posted about the NUI changing the rules is null and void because it didn't happen and seven years have passed.
    This I believe nullifies your later assertion of 'job done' in terms to increases in applications from non EU students. There was no 'job done' because there was no change to the marking scheme classifications despite what that article predicted all those years ago.
    They regularly reproduce material from Wikipedia, for instance, without considering its credibility. Back in the Dark Ages, when students researched their papers in libraries, they were at least forced to use peer-reviewed and fact-checked sources.
    I'm not sure what you mean 'when students researched their papers in libraries'. I couldn't get onto ATHENS last year in college because of people jamming up the access while trawling through online journals - it is a recurring problem in universities. universities spend huge sums of money on accessing research data. I have to say it seems a ridiculous thing to infer that students are somehow no longer required to use peer reviewed sources, or that wikipedia has become mainstream undergraduate research. Maybe your experience is of a particularly bad student body, that sounds utterly out of the norm to be honest.
    Clearly, people who have taken their Leaving Certs or earned their degrees in recent years don't want to believe that they have received inflated grades and devalued qualifications. Statistically, however, you have.
    Perhaps older people who got their results back in the day simply don't like the idea that they didn't get the same faciltiies or resources to achieve those kinds of grades. We just don't have evidence to show what you say is clear, and nor have you presented any.
    You've just said grades are up - standards are down. That's all. If grades were down, you'd probably still say standards were down.


  • #2


    The web does help as you can get access to books, if you know where to look, that you might not otherwise be able to get your hands on in the library. I've resorted to this method myself when having to do various assignments.

    That's a fair point, but doesn't make as much difference as one might think, except to the amount of legwork you have to do to get a book. We used to get quite a lot of inter-library loans.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


  • #2


    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0121/1224262782579.html

    For the sake of 3 million the government has decided to dissolve this organisation, which oversees a number of the biggest universities in Ireland. It seems to me a pointless move which attempts to use smoke and mirrors as economic policy, since the NUI will obviously have to be replaced with something else, either by each individual university or collectively, effectively meaning there will be little to no real savings made. It seems pointlessly disruptive and damaging to Ireland's university system. thoughts?
    You could buy a fairly decent homeless shelter for 3 million, or or put 40 extra gardai on the beat for a year. Good on them. Lets hope they spend it wisely.


  • #2


    Scofflaw wrote: »
    That's a fair point, but doesn't make as much difference as one might think, except to the amount of legwork you have to do to get a book. We used to get quite a lot of inter-library loans.
    Inter library loans aren't always relevant anymore. Thanks to online publishing there's no need to wait around 2 days to get a book in, you just look it up. You don't need to trawl through dusty journal volumes to find a 1978 edition that someone else has got to before you - you just look it up on JSTOP and print it.

    I can't believe that people are so flippant of how educational advances might have improved student performance.


  • #2


    So you see that applying uniform rules here is difficult. The article you posted about the NUI changing the rules is null and void because it didn't happen and seven years have passed.
    This I believe nullifies your later assertion of 'job done' in terms to increases in applications from non EU students. There was no 'job done' because there was no change to the marking scheme classifications despite what that article predicted all those years ago.

    In answer to Red Marauder's claim that the decision to move the grade bands was never implemented:
    The document below was approved by Academic Council at its’ meeting 9th March 2001, on the provision of reasons for judgments in examinations under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Subsequently, following decisions made by Academic Council on 24th October 2003 concerning the implementation of the NUI approved revised marks bands, the generic descriptors provided by the NUI for the 1st Class Honours band have been appended to this document for the information/adoption by academic departments, if deemed appropriate.

    Subsequently, the Academic Board on 28 January 2004, approved the amendment of the document to reflect the NUI revised marks bands. The document below reflects these amendments.

    16th February 2004

    Source

    The document uses exactly the marking bands discussed in the article I first cited. The grading bands were shifted, and the 'descriptors' for the different grades were changed, at the same time as the number of higher degrees awarded jumped upwards. The case for degrees up to the implementation of the changes remains open, of course.

    I appreciate that people who were awarded a degree after the changes might prefer to think of their degrees as exactly the same as older degrees, but they're not, I'm afraid.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


  • #2


    Don't forget the private institutions; 1.2% of students graduating in 2008 and 2009 received first class honours in psychology from the IAU. Although perhaps this makes sense given that the calibre of student is generally not as good as that of the major universities due to the relaxed point requirements. However it's definitely interesting when judged in comparison to the statistics from the other universities.


  • #2


    Scofflaw wrote: »
    What educational innovation was introduced in 2002 that led, over the following couple of years, in virtually every Irish institution, to such large jumps in the numbers of Firsts?

    In TCD, what incredible innovation in pedagogic methods led to a jump in 2.1 degrees from 33.7% to 52.3% over two years?

    Year |UCD |UCC |NUIG |TCD |NUIM |DCU |UL
    1994|34.4|29.1|30.9|23.2|9.4|41.5|21.2
    1995|35.3|32.2|32.5|26|13.6|28.1|25
    1996|30.5|31.8|28.6|22.6|18.5|33.1|27
    1997|33.8|36.6|29.2|24.4|12.9|35.8|25.4
    1998|34.4|34.5|32.5|21.9|12|33.7|27.6
    1999|32.5|29.4|34.5|26.4|21.4|40.3|28.5
    2000|34|39.2|36.8|29.7|21.2|41.4|28.6
    2001|35.1|41.1|35.7|29.5|26.3|43.7|30.8
    2002|36.6|41.7|37.1|33.7|28.6|43.7|32.4
    2004|40.7|42.5|41|52.3|32.5|42.3|36.7



    cordially,
    Scofflaw

    There was probably no change in the teaching practices at all. What would have been seen though, I think, is a shift of brighter students into degrees traditionally thought of as very difficult due to the promise of new found opportunities because of the Celtic Tiger. Anyone graduating in 04, went in in 2000 and went through guidance counselling etc. in the couple of years before that, when engineering, computer science and health sciences were being touted as the areas in which bright students should forge a career.

    What would have been the result? I think it was movement of very intelligent students from courses with more subjective appraisal methods, with marking schemes normally following a curve, into courses with completely objective evaluation, courses with traditionally lower levels of 1sts and 2nds but courses that have to award everyone who gets the right answers down on the exam sheet the marks allotted for those particular questions. Such a shift probably would not have affected the scores of the more subjective degrees and hence the total overall number of higher degrees went up.

    On the subject of making degrees harder - that's not really possible, not to account for sudden and possibly short term trends anyway, as students need to be judged on what industries expect and there needs to be fairly uniform difficulty across college courses. For example, if a particular course in UCC was renowned because of it's facilites or whatever and drew in the best students then it could not sit harder exams to compensate and award 2.1s to students who would have easily gotten a 1.1 in another institute.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years as the number of students tackling these "harder" courses drops off.


  • #2


    Scofflaw wrote: »
    The document uses exactly the marking bands discussed in the article I first cited. The grading bands were shifted, and the 'descriptors' for the different grades were changed, at the same time as the number of higher degrees awarded jumped upwards.
    Ah I see, well in fact perhaps neither of us are 100% correct.

    I was basing my understanding of it on certain courses in UCD (NUI) and courses at NUI Galway such as medicine, and other courses for example my own course in UCD Veterinary School which has a whole other marking structure entirely for various professional reasons. I gather that engineering in NUIG also doesn't apply the banding you refer to. These are just the examples I know about.

    Another issue is that the banding methods you refer to are generally no longer used at all in undergraduate education with the largest of the NUI colleges, UCD.
    The reason is that most courses are now fully modularised, and things like firsts and seconds etc, just don't officially exist anymore and have been replaced with the American system of Grade Point Averages.

    As for the institutions that have altered their banding schemes, well this seems to indicate that baesed on your own information, they have brought standards in line with other institutions abroad.
    I don't personally agree with a situation where a graduate from the University of Durham would be given a more desirable classification as a graduate from UCC for exactly the same grade. I'm afraid that would give a dinstinct disadvantage to the Irish graduate and if all we are doing is keeping up with international practice, then so be it.


  • #2


    ORLY? wrote: »
    There was probably no change in the teaching practices at all. What would have been seen though, I think, is a shift of brighter students into degrees traditionally thought of as very difficult due to the promise of new found opportunities because of the Celtic Tiger. Anyone graduating in 04, went in in 2000 and went through guidance counselling etc. in the couple of years before that, when engineering, computer science and health sciences were being touted as the areas in which bright students should forge a career.

    What would have been the result? I think it was movement of very intelligent students from courses with more subjective appraisal methods, with marking schemes normally following a curve, into courses with completely objective evaluation, courses with traditionally lower levels of 1sts and 2nds but courses that have to award everyone who gets the right answers down on the exam sheet the marks allotted for those particular questions. Such a shift probably would not have affected the scores of the more subjective degrees and hence the total overall number of higher degrees went up.

    On the subject of making degrees harder - that's not really possible, not to account for sudden and possibly short term trends anyway, as students need to be judged on what industries expect and there needs to be fairly uniform difficulty across college courses. For example, if a particular course in UCC was renowned because of it's facilites or whatever and drew in the best students then it could not sit harder exams to compensate and award 2.1s to students who would have easily gotten a 1.1 in another institute.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years as the number of students tackling these "harder" courses drops off.

    Again, an interesting possibility, rather let down by the fact that CAO requirements for the "more objective" courses fell over the period in question, while Leaving Cert grades rose:

    Course|1998|1999|2000|2001|2002|2003|2004
    Science|395|375|345|300|320|280|325
    Arts|385|380|375|370|375|375|370
    Commerce|440|445|445|445|455|460|470
    |Leaving Cert Results||||||
    >600|0.1|0.1|0.2|0.2|0.2|0.2|0.3
    500-599|5|5.6|5.5|6.5|6.5|7.1|7.6
    400-499|17.8|19|19.1|19.7|20.1|20.4|20.7
    300-399|22.7|23.9|25.5|25.4|25.1|25.6|25.4

    Wishful thinking, I fear - the evidence suggests that actually students were avoiding the 'harder' and 'more objective' courses.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


  • #2


    Scofflaw wrote: »
    Again, an interesting possibility, rather let down by the fact that CAO requirements for the "more objective" courses fell over the period in question, while Leaving Cert grades rose:

    Course|1998|1999|2000|2001|2002|2003|2004
    Science|395|375|345|300|320|280|325
    Arts|385|380|375|370|375|375|370
    Commerce|440|445|445|445|455|460|470
    |Leaving Cert Results||||||
    >600|0.1|0.1|0.2|0.2|0.2|0.2|0.3
    500-599|5|5.6|5.5|6.5|6.5|7.1|7.6
    400-499|17.8|19|19.1|19.7|20.1|20.4|20.7
    300-399|22.7|23.9|25.5|25.4|25.1|25.6|25.4
    Wishful thinking, I fear - the evidence suggests that actually students were avoiding the 'harder' and 'more objective' courses.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


    Arts jumped up this year from 335 to 360 points in UCC. That's a relatively substantial jump for one year.


  • #2


    Scofflaw wrote: »
    Wishful thinking, I fear - the evidence suggests that actually students were avoiding the 'harder' and 'more objective' courses.
    I think youre wrong to look at points instead of actual places.

    In 2007/ 08 there were 1,823 more new entrant first years at University for science, medical/ health, engineering and agricultural courses than there were for humanities, law, and business courses.

    If there are more courses available, and more places available, this lowers the points requirements. On the whole there were more students studying medical/ engineering/ science/ agriculture than the "easier" courses.

    http://www.hea.ie/files/files/file/statistics/HEAFacts0708(1).pdf


  • #2


    Arts jumped up this year from 335 to 360 points in UCC. That's a relatively substantial jump for one year.

    Sure - but it has no real relevance to the jump in First and 2.1s in 2002-4.

    I hope I'm not giving people the impression that I'm on some kind of mission to put down recent graduates here. My own degree is so long ago it's effectively meaningless (particularly since I no longer work in the field in question!). University degrees remain hard work, but the same amount of hard work can now get you a slightly higher grade. However, if the current student body were less hard-working than previous generations, then shifting the grade bands would only have compensated for declining standards, rather than resulting in a jump in higher awards.

    The question of shifting the focus of marking from exams to continuous assessment is a more subtle one. To some extent, continuous assessment rewards the diligent student over the bright one, and can also to a greater degree reflect the effort put in by the lecturer/teacher as opposed to the student, since the autonomy exercised by the student in continuous assessment exercises is less than in exams or other solo exercises.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


  • #2


    Scofflaw wrote: »
    Sure - but it has no real relevance to the jump in First and 2.1s in 2002-4.

    I'm genuinely confused right now as I thought you were making a correlation between falling standards and falling CAO points for Arts and other subjects. :confused:


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