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Great Britain

More than a third of University of Bradford students awarded first-class degrees

More than a third of students at the University of Bradford are awarded first class degrees, it has been revealed.

Bradford has placed 10th in a list ranking 157 UK universities by the proportion of firsts awarded, giving 36% of its students the highest award.

Bradford is the highest ranking non-specialist university outside London on the list.

Analasys of official data has revealed soaring numbers of firsts are being handed out by universities, with virtually all UK universities and colleges having seen an increase in firsts in the last five years.

The findings come at a time when universities are under intense pressure to be transparent about how they award degrees and to address concerns about grade inflation.

The Press Association's analysis of Higher Education Statistics Agency figures shows that at 25 out of 157 UK universities and colleges - 16% in total - at least 33% of degrees awarded in 2018/19 were given a first.

Of these, seven were Russell Group universities - widely considered among the UK's leading institutions.

In addition, 99 institutions - 63% overall - gave at least one in four (25%) of degrees the highest honour, the analysis shows.

Of the main, non-specialist universities, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine gave out the highest proportion of firsts, with 48% of degrees awarded the top result.

The university, which is part of the Russell Group, has seen a 13 percentage point rise in the proportion of firsts awarded since five years ago, in 2014/15.

A spokesperson for Imperial College London said: "Our students are high-achievers, their pre-university qualifications are among the highest of any university, and it is to be expected that many go on to gain first class degrees.

"Imperial maintains rigorous academic standards and has robust quality assurance processes in place."

Two, smaller, specialist institutions gave out a higher proportion of firsts last year.

These were the Royal Academy of Music (52%) and AECC University College, which specialises in health sciences (50%).

The analysis also shows that 138 out of 153 institutions with comparable data saw at least a one percentage point increase in the numbers of firsts awarded in a five-year period (between 2014/15 and 2018/19).

These figures are all rounded to the nearest whole percentage.

PA's analysis also shows that of the institutions for which there is comparable data, nearly one in four (24%) - some 36 universities and colleges in total - saw at least a 10 percentage point increase in the number of firsts awarded between 2014/15 and 2018/19.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has previously warned that the increasing proportion of students being awarded top grades is "undermining our world-class reputation".

Speaking last month, he said: "The levels of firsts and upper second honour degrees remain at an all-time high.

"Universities are expected to use their awarding powers responsibly and must not inflate grades for their own reputation or league table ranking."

The full list giving the proportion of firsts awarded by each university and college in 2018/19, to the nearest full percentage:

  1. Royal Academy of Music 52%
  2. AECC University College 50%
  3. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 48%
  4. Royal College of Music 42%
  5. Ravensbourne University London 39%
  6. Royal Northern College of Music 38%
  7. University College London 38%
  8. London School of Economics and Political Science 37%
  9. Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance 36%
  10. University of Bradford 36%
  11. University of West London 35%
  12. Guildhall School of Music and Drama 35%
  13. Staffordshire University 35%
  14. University of Manchester 35%
  15. Anglia Ruskin University 35%
  16. University of Oxford 34%
  17. Glyndwr University 34%
  18. Conservatoire for Dance and Drama 34%
  19. University of Durham 34%
  20. University of Southampton 33%
  21. University of Northumbria at Newcastle 33%
  22. University for the Creative Arts 33%
  23. University of Bath 33%
  24. Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 33%
  25. University of Greenwich 33%
  26. Queen Mary University of London 32%
  27. University of Strathclyde 32%
  28. Grwp Llandrillo Menai 32%
  29. University of Huddersfield 32%
  30. University of Leeds 32%
  31. Kingston University 32%
  32. University of East Anglia 32%
  33. University of Surrey 31%
  34. Manchester Metropolitan University 31%
  35. University College Birmingham 31%
  36. Birmingham City University 31%
  37. Courtauld Institute of Art 31%
  38. University of Warwick 31%
  39. Teesside University 31%
  40. Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance 31%
  41. De Montfort University 30%
  42. University of Exeter 30%
  43. University of Wolverhampton 30%
  44. University of Wales Trinity Saint David 30%
  45. London South Bank University 30%
  46. King's College London 30%
  47. Sheffield Hallam University 30%
  48. University of Nottingham 29%
  49. University of Cambridge 29%
  50. University of St Andrews 29%
  51. University of Birmingham 29%
  52. Loughborough University 29%
  53. Ulster University 29%
  54. Bangor University 29%
  55. Swansea University 29%
  56. University of Bristol 29%
  57. University of Central Lancashire 29%
  58. University of Lancaster 29%
  59. Cardiff University 28%
  60. University of Salford 28%
  61. St Mary's University, Twickenham 28%
  62. Aston University 28%
  63. University of Reading 28%
  64. University of Aberdeen 28%
  65. Royal Holloway and Bedford New College 28%
  66. London Metropolitan University 28%
  67. University of Edinburgh 28%
  68. Solent University 27%
  69. Leeds College of Music 27%
  70. Leeds Trinity University 27%
  71. University of Derby 27%
  72. University of East London 27%
  73. University of York 27%
  74. Coventry University 27%
  75. University of Sheffield 27%
  76. University of St Mark and St John 27%
  77. Heriot-Watt University 27%
  78. University of Liverpool 27%
  79. University of Chester 27%
  80. University of Essex 27%
  81. Queen's University Belfast 27%
  82. University of South Wales 27%
  83. University of Kent 26%
  84. Glasgow School of Art 26%
  85. Leeds Arts University 26%
  86. Edge Hill University 26%
  87. University of Suffolk 26%
  88. University of Lincoln 26%
  89. Keele University 26%
  90. University of the Arts, London 26%
  91. Liverpool John Moores University 26%
  92. Goldsmiths College 25%
  93. University of Portsmouth 25%
  94. Middlesex University 25%
  95. Brunel University London 25%
  96. University of Sussex 25%
  97. Oxford Brookes University 25%
  98. Norwich University of the Arts 25%
  99. City, University of London 25%
  100. University of Cumbria 24%
  101. Falmouth University 24%
  102. University of Hull 24%
  103. University of Hertfordshire 24%
  104. Cardiff Metropolitan University 24%
  105. University of Bedfordshire 24%
  106. University of Glasgow 24%
  107. University of the West of England, Bristol 24%
  108. University of Leicester 24%
  109. University of Buckingham 24%
  110. University of Gloucestershire 23%
  111. University of Northampton 23%
  112. Leeds Beckett University 23%
  113. University of Plymouth 23%
  114. Newcastle University 23%
  115. Hartpury University 23%
  116. SOAS University of London 23%
  117. Bournemouth University 23%
  118. York St John University 23%
  119. Bishop Grosseteste University 22%
  120. University of Bolton 22%
  121. Arts University Bournemouth 22%
  122. Canterbury Christ Church University 22%
  123. Liverpool Hope University 20%
  124. University of Brighton 20%
  125. Aberystwyth University 20%
  126. University of Worcester 20%
  127. The University of Westminster 19%
  128. Bath Spa University 19%
  129. Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts 19%
  130. University of Winchester 19%
  131. University of Chichester 19%
  132. Plymouth College of Art 18%
  133. Buckinghamshire New University 18%
  134. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh 18%
  135. Newman University 18%
  136. St George's, University of London 18%
  137. Robert Gordon University 18%
  138. Birkbeck College 18%
  139. University of Abertay Dundee 18%
  140. University of Dundee 18%
  141. Nottingham Trent University 17%
  142. Glasgow Caledonian University 17%
  143. Stranmillis University College 17%
  144. Writtle University College 17%
  145. Roehampton University 17%
  146. University of Stirling 17%
  147. Open University 17%
  148. Royal Agricultural University 17%
  149. Edinburgh Napier University 17%
  150. Harper Adams University 16%
  151. University of Sunderland 16%
  152. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 15%
  153. University of the Highlands and Islands 14%
  154. St Mary's University College 11%
  155. Royal Veterinary College 8%
  156. University of the West of Scotland 8%
  157. SRUC 7%
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