Introduce Uniform Grading System for our universities

Previously Published: The Daily Observer

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As the pursuit of higher education becomes increasingly competitive, students in Bangladeshi universities find themselves confronted with a significant hurdle because of the absence of a uniform grading system.

With each university employing its own unique grading scale, ranging from CGPA systems to variations in the weight of letter grades, the absence of consistency perpetuates confusion, inequality, and demotivation among students, and has been hindering their academic progress and recognition in the respective job industry. It is high time for education authorities to recognize the urgency of implementing a standardized grading system that ensures fairness, transparency, and equal opportunities for all students across the country.

There are different CGPA systems for different universities in the higher education surface in Bangladesh. Though it follows the 4-grade point at the university level, it is not uniform in terms of weight or grading points.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) of Bangladesh has approved a scheme for universities. A+ (A plus) is the highest grade, weighing 4.00-grade points associated with an 80 percent mark or higher, A (A Regular) with 75 to 79 weighing grade point of 3.75, A- (A Minus) with 70-74 weighing 3.5, B+ (B Plus) with 65-69 weighing 3.25, and so on. An F grade is given for a performance with 40 percent accuracy or less.

On the other hand, A (A Regular) which weighs 4.00-grade points is the highest grade at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) whereas A+ (A plus) weighing 4.00-grade points is the highest grade used by Dhaka University (DU). While UGC is favoring a uniform grading system for universities, though most of the public universities follow that system, there are a handful of private universities that abide by that. Most of the private universities, however, practice a grading system different from UGC’s.

I know some private university that follows a system where the grade point is 4 for both letters grade A and A+, and letter grade A- weighs 3.80-grade points, at some 3.70-grade points, and even at some 3.50-grade points. So, the students getting A- (A minus) across the countries are being institutionally discriminated. The same happens in all the letter grades, there are differences in terms of weight as well as in terms of numerically obtained marks.

In such a university, the letter grade A+ is for 97-100 numerical scores, and an A is for 90 to below 97. At some universities A comes in 93 or higher, at some other universities A comes in 85 or higher and there are some that follow UGC’s uniform grading system, where “A+” comes in 80 or higher. All of these different grading standards are sustaining together in the academia of the same country over the years.

So, the matter of concern arises when the students passing out from universities that give an A+ in 80 percent or higher, and the students passing out from universities that give an A on 90 percent or higher are getting into the same job industry.

Additionally, some universities have resorted to the Bell Curve Grading system in an attempt to maintain a standardized distribution of grades. The bell curve grading system operates on the principle that student performance naturally follows a Gaussian distribution, where the majority of students fall within the average range and a small percentage excel or struggle.

However, the subjective implementation of this system and differing adoption rates among departments within the same university have resulted in significant disparities. I know a university (University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh) where different departments within the same university choose to adopt the system while others do not, leading to varying evaluation methodologies and criteria. For instance, in some departments of that university, an “A” grade may be awarded at 85 marks, while in others, it may be set at 90 marks, and some teachers follow the bell curve distribution without any clear benchmarks. Students in certain departments may face higher grading standards and a narrower distribution of top grades compared to their counterparts in different departments.

The discrepancies and variations in grading practices across different universities are not limited to students’ immediate academic pursuits; they also have far-reaching consequences for their future prospects in the job market. Employers face a daunting task when assessing the academic achievements of job applicants from different universities.

In addition to the challenges of comparability, the absence of a uniform grading system undermines the credibility and transparency of the education system as a whole. Employers may question the validity and fairness of the grades awarded by different universities, leading to doubts about the quality of education received by students. This lack of trust in the grading system can have a long-term impact on the reputation of Bangladeshi universities and the perceived value of their degrees in the job market.

Furthermore, the absence of a standardized grading system poses significant challenges for students seeking international opportunities. Esteemed international universities have embraced uniform grading systems across the nation, enabling transparent assessment of student achievements. For instance, in the United States and neighboring countries, a standardized letter grade system is widely implemented, allowing students to present their academic performance consistently.

This enables easy evaluation by potential employers, scholarship committees, and academic institutions abroad. However, Bangladeshi students face skepticism and difficulty in presenting their academic performance consistently on a globally recognized scale. This hinders their ability to compete on equal footing with their international peers and limits their access to scholarships.

To address these concerns, the adoption of a uniform grading system is imperative. The University Grants Commission must take the lead in establishing a comprehensive and standardized framework that encompasses all universities across Bangladesh. Such a system should incorporate clear criteria for each grade, ensuring consistency and fairness in evaluating student performance. It should also consider the differences in evaluation methods, accounting for various academic disciplines and their distinct assessment requirements.

Additionally, professors and instructors should receive clear guidelines and training to ensure accurate and consistent grading practices. A uniform grading system is not merely a desire but a necessity for the growth and development of higher education in Bangladesh.

Mehedi Hasan Marof is a Vice Chancellor’s Award-winning Journalism student at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh.

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