My take on the unexplained increase in degree results, as reported in the media this week, is that it is due to students working harder and being more motivated, not that universities are artificially increasing grades, and it would be a disservice to the students and to universities not to explore and measure this properly.

It is well documented that millennials are cleaner living than us children of the 60’s and 70’s, drinking less alcohol for example and eating less meat. It is certainly our experience at ACS International School, where we have children from the UK and all over the world, that what this new generation has in common is a determination to be different and better than us.

In fact, we could almost call them ‘Generation D’ because they are so driven and determined to do things differently, whether that is how they live, how they treat the world, or how hard they work. 

Our research among university admissions officers in 2017 showed that almost three quarters, 73 per cent, said students are putting more effort into considering their university choices before they apply than they did in the past.  I think this effort carries on right throughout university life.

Students want to get value for money for their degrees in a way which we didn’t, no surprise with tuition fees at £9k a year when for us it was free, and are also incredibly focussed on their career and life choices.

At the same time universities have also made herculean efforts to improve study facilities and academic services, as one chart from UKSQA’s (UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment) excellent report highlighted so clearly.

Students have amazing new libraries to work in, access to staff who are trained and ready to teach them well and are motivated to work hard.

What we have here is a great news story; a perfect combination of factors which is delivering results. We shouldn’t allow the phrase “unexplained increase” to dribble out, dripping poisonous implications to the waiting world.

The report authors were being academically accurate in using the phrase, but someone needs to jump in quickly and quantify student drive and determination before any damage is done, to give credit where it is due to students and universities alike.

Ryan Hinchey, university counsellor at ACS Cobham International School

About Ryan Hinchey: Ryan came to ACS Cobham after spending the last 8 years in university admissions in Boston, Massachusetts.  Mr. Hinchey has worked with international students all over the world and has visited over 75 countries while working in the field of international education.

In addition to his duties at ACS Cobham, Mr. Hinchey has served on the Council of International Schools (CIS) Committee for Latin America and presently is a member of the Overseas Association of College Admissions Counsellors (OACAC) Committee for Inclusion, Access, and Success.

Currently, Mr. Hinchey is completing his Doctor of Education degree with a specialisation in international education.

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