GuildHE HEIs to pilot new Higher Education Achievement Report

Eighteen higher education institutions are to pilot a new approach to representing the achievements of students at the end of their degrees.

The Measuring and Recording Student Achievement Steering Group – the “Burgess Group” – chaired by Professor Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, produced a report last year which recommended introducing a single document, to be known as a ‘Higher Education Achievement Report’ (HEAR), which would be the key vehicle for measuring and recording student achievement.

Following consultation and development work, The Burgess Implementation Steering Group is now working with a wide range of universities across the UK – with support from the funding bodies of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – to trial the new approach. Initially, the HEAR will be tested on data relating to recently graduated students to ensure that it is compatible with student record systems. It will then be trialled early in 2009 with existing students, alongside current methods of recording student achievement.

The Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) is an attempt to both pull together and increase the amount of information available about an individual student’s achievement. A model of the HEAR, which includes information about student achievement in various modules and the final degree result, was included in the Steering Group’s final report published in October 2007.

Professor Burgess said: “Throughout our discussions we have always sought to do justice to the achievement of students and improve the way in which universities demonstrate the wide range of their achievements. Throughout the recent debate about degree classification, we were very clear that the UK Honours degree itself is a robust and highly valued qualification.

“We are delighted that so many institutions have agreed to trial the HEAR with the involvement of students and employers. This will give us an opportunity to see if the proposals add value and are practical. I look forward to seeing the results.”

Aaron Porter, Vice President (Higher Education), National Union of Students (NUS), said: "It is clear that the current degree classification system is no longer fit for purpose; students deserve a more detailed acknowledgement of their overall achievement from their time in higher education.

"NUS welcomes the HEAR trial as an important step towards all students in the UK receiving a comprehensive report at the end of their degree course.

"We are actively supporting all institutions and students’ unions which are taking part in this trial, and we look forward to a wider discussion about how the report can be implemented nationally in the future."

The trialling is taking place to ensure that the HEAR is practical, helpful and useful to institutions, students and employers before a decision is made about final adoption.

Across the 18 institutions the trials will initially take place in four main subjects – English, Biology, Accounting and Creative Arts. The Group is working closely with students and employers, both of whom are represented on the Steering Group and will be participating in the trials.