Inflating Grades

Almost every generation seems to think they had it much harder than the one that follows.

When it comes to education - those feelings grow even stronger, with most believing the education system has become far more generous in grading than it was in the past.

So, is it true? Is it easier to score highly in your third level qualification? Are you more likely to get top grades?

Are certain third level institutions holding the line against grade inflation? Or has there been a general move towards higher marks and what is driving it?

Are exams easier? Have students got smarter? And do lecturers feel pressure to reward students as the third-level system becomes more ‘consumer’ driven?


We want to look at all third-level institutions in Ireland over the past ten years and find out to what extent grade inflation is real or imagined.

As part of this, we will examine universities, institutes of technology, colleges of further education, and where possible private colleges.

We want to look in other places too - in the garda college, the military college, and other places where the state provides training.

We want to discover what grades people are getting but also dig deeper into pass/fail rates and whether some students are let scrape through, simply because it’s a bigger headache to make them fail.

If you want to see more from Noteworthy, return to our home page here.

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Adrian Acosta 
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