Universities are awarding firsts to one in five students

First-class degrees were traditionally reserved for exceptional students. They are now being given to 20 per cent of those awarded a grade or pass.

79,440 students got a first last summer, four times as many as 15 years ago. Only eight per cent of students, 20,700, were awarded a first in 1999.

A record one in five students is now graduating with a first-class degree amid claims that universities are inflating grades to boost their reputations.

Nearly 80,000 graduates were handed a first last summer – four times as many as 15 years ago.

The sharp rise revived concern over degree inflation fuelled by league tables which rank universities according to the number of top degrees awarded. 

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