Despite assurances from the University, the number of students receiving A grades has dropped since the introduction of its new grading system.
In 2014 the University proposed amendments to the university’s grade policies to bring them in line with the rest of New Zealand. That is, an A is now the same percentage bracket at every university in New Zealand.
With the grade changes, a C- became the lowest-possible grade for a pass (with a range of 50–54%). The cutoff for a A- rose from 75% to 80%, while the A+ range narrowed from 85–100% to 90–100%.
According to the Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the time, Professor Peter Thirkell, “the intention is not to make it any harder for students to achieve a particular grade but to harmonise Victoria’s grading system with that of other universities”.
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However, Salient obtained statistics under the Official Information Act, which showed that A grades dropped across every discipline between 2013 and 2014, while the number of C range grades increased.
In August the University’s Academic Office circulated a memo to Academic Committee about the impact of the grade changes. Rather than address the changes in A and C range grades, the memo highlighted a series of irrelevant statistics, such as the proportion of B grades and overall pass rates—neither of which had been significantly affected by the changes.
When Salient asked the University to explain both the drops in A grades since 2013 and the increase in Cs, Vice-Provost (Academic and Equity) Allison Kirkman said she was “comfortable that the revisions to the grading system have not had a significant overall impact”, but did not offer any real explanation or address the disparities.