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I have recently had a couple of emails from students on a Level 1 course, stating how disappointed they were with their marks for their first two TMAs.  This surprised me as their marks were in the 60s and 70s, which strike me as encouraging starts.  I have tried to persuade them that if they work hard, they should be capable of getting higher marks later.  It strikes me as slightly strange that students should be so disappointed with solid marks at such an early stage on their degree that they wrote to me.

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A London Review of Books article on universities

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 09:40

Another LRB article on universities that questions some assumptions about Ivy League universities and the way that the government seems to be uncritical.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n10/howard-hotson/dont-look-to-the-ivy-league

The following is a key quote:

"Might markets have the beneficial side effect of driving up academic standards? Much depends on the measure you use; but the academic standard that markets are most likely to drive up is the one that matters most to high-fee-paying students: marks. Way back when, the average mark in the US was supposed to be a C. Nowadays, the more expensive the university, the higher the average mark, with the average in private universities now an A-minus. Why is grade inflation so closely correlated with fee inflation? The reason can easily be guessed. If you’ve attended one of America’s hundred costliest colleges or universities and paid upwards of $200,000 for a four-year degree, then it had better be a good one."

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