Report recommends new approach to recording students’ achievements

Posted by pt91 at Oct 03, 2012 11:44 AM |
University of Leicester Vice-Chancellor chairs working group proposing changes to degree classifications
Report recommends new approach to recording students’ achievements

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 3 October 2012

Photograph of Professor Sir Robert Burgess available from

A report published today (Wednesday) has recommended the introduction of a new system for recording students’ achievements during their time in higher education.

The final report of the Burgess Implementation Steering Group recommends that, from autumn 2012, all students entering undergraduate degree programmes of study in UK higher education institutions will leave with a Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) as well as a degree certificate. The HEAR is a single document that will provide more detail about academic qualifications including module marks and assessment methods, as well as more information about extra-curricular activities, experiences and responsibilities such as employability skills, work placements and volunteering.

Following the piloting of the HEAR at a wide range of universities across the UK since 2008, over half of the higher education institutions in the UK report that they are now going ahead with arrangements for its implementation. Others have been awaiting official endorsement from the representative bodies which has now been given. The decision to adopt a HEAR is up to individual institutions.

The report is the culmination of several years’ work by the higher education sector to find a better way of recognising students’ achievements over the course of their degrees. Following the publication in 2007 of the Burgess Group's Beyond the honours degree classification report, Professor Sir Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, was invited by Universities UK and GuildHE to develop in more detail and trial the proposals for a HEAR.

In summary, the HEAR:

• is a concise, electronic document produced by a higher education institution which provides a record of a student’s achievement

• adheres to a standard template, is issued as an electronic document and is a maximum of six pages long

• measures and records achievement - capturing a wide range of knowledge and skills - providing students with a much broader picture than a single degree classification (e.g. first, upper second-class, etc.)

• includes the overall final classification - whether the honours degree classification, grade point average or any other - verified by the institution

Professor Burgess said: “Gaining a degree is a major milestone, so it is important that students receive a comprehensive record of all their achievements at the end of their degrees.

“The UK honours degree is a robust and highly-valued qualification. But universities have recognised for some time that a single degree classification cannot do justice to the range of skills, knowledge and experience students gain during their time in higher education.

“The HEAR is designed to encourage a more sophisticated approach to recording students' achievements in the 21st century. It will benefit students, employers and higher education institutions themselves. Our previous report identified the damaging obsession with 'first' and 'upper second' degree classifications and it is now clear that this is not enough detail for students and employers. The aim of the HEAR is to provide the wider picture of a student’s achievements.

“Following the successful trials, we have seen many other institutions beginning to develop their own HEARs, with over half the sector now in line to introduce the document. In time, the steering group hopes that the wider information contained in the HEAR will eclipse the single degree classification and, where appropriate, serve as a replacement for it.”

Higher education's representative bodies Universities UK and GuildHE have now endorsed officially the HEAR. Speaking at the launch of the report, Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “The HEAR will enable institutions and students to demonstrate the wider skills and richer experiences that higher education has to offer, and employers are interested in.

“Universities UK has now endorsed the HEAR and it is already being implemented by a large number of universities. The HEAR’s introduction puts the UK at the forefront of best practice in Europe in terms of measuring, recording and reporting student achievement.”

Following the Group’s final report, the ongoing support and maintenance of the HEAR will now be passed to the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: “On completing their studies, students face many challenges, particularly now in a global economy, and I firmly believe that they deserve a robust and complete report which properly reflects their experience and achievements in higher education. 

“Similarly, it is helpful for prospective employers and others to be able to see beyond the single degree classification, and to get a true measure of students’ achievements and the potential and value they develop during their time at university. I hope that by working with institutions, students and employers we can encourage adoption of the Higher Education Achievement Report across the UK sector.”


You can download the full report by clicking here.



1.     Please find attached the final report of the of the Burgess Implementation Steering Group, 'Bringing it all together – introducing the HEAR'. It will be available to download from Wednesday 3 October from the Universities UK website. 

2.     The trialling of the HEAR, which started in 2008, involved a sample of 30 institutions representing a full spread of different types of higher education institution, drawn from all parts of the UK (the initial wave of 18 institutions in 2008 was widened out by an additional 12, in 2010). During this elongated period, several of the trialling institutions began issuing HEARs to their students and, increasingly, others outside the trialling process expressed interest in beginning to develop their own HEARs. As a consequence, more than half the sector is now engaged in activities aimed at implementing the HEAR whilst many others are waiting to act.

3.     Having met its objectives, Implementation Steering Group will now evolve into a smaller Strategic Advisory Group to give strategic direction to the work of the HEAR. The Strategic Advisory Group will comprise representatives of institutions, the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). The key sector organisations will both be represented on, and directly support, the group: Universities UK (UUK) and GuildHE, the Centre for Recording Achievement (CRA), the Higher Education Academy (HEA), the funding councils, JISC, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

4.     A new website has been launched to provide detailed information and guidance about the HEAR:  

5.     For more information, please contact the Universities UK press office on 02074195407 or email

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