Where to go to get a first-class degree
GRADUATING WITH a good degree is suddenly even more important than you might think. A survey of employers published by gradireland this year found that almost 60 per cent of them are expecting their applicants to have a 2.1 or higher in their degree.
Just to put that expectation into context, just two years ago, 38 per cent of employers were expecting similar grades.
The heat is on for the graduating class of 2013 and a good degree is no longer good enough. These days, graduates applying for a trainee management post with Aldi, for example, must have a minimum 2.1 qualification. Many school principals will not entertain applications for teaching post unless the candidate has a 2.1 or better.
But is a good degree “easier” to secure in some colleges than others?
An Irish Times analysis of primary degrees awarded over the past seven years shows DCU students getting the highest proportion of first-class honours degrees, with an average of 19 per cent managing to score top marks.
TCD and UCC awarded the highest proportion of first-class honours last year with 18 per cent of the graduating classes in those colleges achieving the top accolade.
But is this a good thing? With issues such as grade inflation cropping up on the education agenda, are students better off in a college at the other end of the spectrum where first-class honours are rarer?
Less than 14 per cent of NUIG’s students have graduated with a first-class honours degree over the seven years.
UL has a similar proportion of firsts with just over 14 per cent. Both of these universities incidentally have been relatively consistent in their marking over the seven years surveyed.
While the grades situation varies quite considerably within different institutions, the national averages are interesting. It’s sobering to think that in theory, many employers would disregard more than a third of the students who graduated over the surveyed period because they did not manage to achieve the required 2.1 or higher.
Overall, 47 per cent of students who graduated from the seven universities between 2005 and 2011 left with a 2.1 degree. An average of 16 per cent managed to get first-class honours over the same period.
Less common are 2.2 degrees, with just over a quarter (26 per cent) of students graduating with that mark while a further 10 per cent of graduates left college with a pass or third-class honours degree.
The survey looked only at students who actually graduated. Every year, a certain percentage of students do not graduate for a variety of reasons including noncompletion of their degree, or failure. However, those numbers are small and each institution records the information differently, so for the purposes of this survey, that information was not examined.
Medicine, dentistry and veterinary students are subject to a different marking system. There are no 2.1s or 2.2s, just undivided 2nd-class honours. We have included these grades in with the 2.1 degrees awarded. Likewise, students who received third-class honours have been included in the pass category. We have adjusted the figures for UCD, UCC, TCD and NUIG in this way.
DCU awarded the highest proportion – 19 per cent – of first-class honours in the seven years between 2005 and 2011.
However, the rate of firsts has fallen substantially since 2005, when 25 per cent of students received the top grade.
Last year that proportion had fallen to 17 per cent, just one percentage point above the national average of 16 per cent.