Not one Durham student failed their degree in 2017, figures reveal


Durham University did not fail a single final-year student in 2017, according to figures revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

Durham is among 11 British universities, including Oxford and Edinburgh, that awarded degrees to 100% of their final year students, as stated in a report published in The Sunday Times.

The figures also show a further 32 universities nationwide had pass rates of 99% or above. These include fellow Russell Group universities Birmingham and Leeds.

For the 2016/17 academic year, there were 3,829 full-time students enrolled in the third year of their undergraduate studies at Durham, in addition to 909 students in the final year of a four-year course. Of those who sat their finals, 89.5% achieved a ‘Good Honours’ degree of at least an upper second class, according to The Complete University Guide.

All the remaining students were judged at least to have met the minimum standards required to obtain a degree qualification.

The publication of the report’s findings comes amid growing concern about standards in the UK’s higher education industry.

Former Minister of State for Education, Lord Adonis, told The Times: “It is not credible that amongst thousands of students none, or virtually none, will fail to make the grade. This yet again raises the issue of university standards and universities’ obsession with simply milking revenue out of students without requiring enough in return.”

The government recently introduced a university watchdog, the Office for Students (OfS), designed to drive up standards in higher education, which assumed legal authority in England from January 1st this year.

These statistics may increase pressure on Durham to address its standards, after the university was also denied the prestigious Gold rating for teaching excellence in June 2017, as part of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

The list of universities that join Durham with a 100% pass rate for finalists includes Liverpool, Surrey, Bath, University of East London, Oxford, Abertay, Arts University Bournemouth, Sunderland, Edinburgh and Worcester.

Photograph: Ieuan Jenkins via Flickr 

3 thoughts on “Not one Durham student failed their degree in 2017, figures reveal

  • Perhaps Lord Adonis might like to consider his definition of “credible”.

    The statistics, as I understand them, would comprise ANY student getting ANY class of honours degree, OR receiving an Ordinary degree. Presumably, by the time of the final year, anyone who was likely to fail would have done so at an earlier point, most likely in the penultimate year. That’s high, but it’s hardly straining the bounds of credibility, and may be anomalous if this time round no one didn’t get through as a result of illness or some other misadventure. That said, I still do think there’s grade inflation pressure. There has definitely been mumbling on other parts of the sector about having “comparative” pass rates at different levels when set alongside “comparator” institutions (I worked in one – not Durham – where a PVC used almost exactly those words during a presentation).

    Note here: I’m an old fart, so can remember doing my time here before modular degrees, when failing Part I of your finals meant a brief handshake and a swift kick up the jacksie as your arse was propelled out of the University with extreme prejudice. No second chances.

    Resits only happened at the end of the first year.

  • This article is categorically false and must be retracted. I’ve had several people personally me contact me about this article, all of whom were failed in 2017 in their last year of study. If the Palatinate does not retract this then this is the definition of #fakenews

  • This is fake news – people were failed in their final year.


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