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REPORTS

Consultative Report of the Council and the General Board on the requirements for the B.A. Degree by Honours

The COUNCIL and the GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. During the Michaelmas and Lent Terms 2007-08 the Education Committee of the General Board consulted Faculty Boards and other authorities (including the Senior Tutors' Committee and Cambridge University Students Union) on a number of issues relating to Tripos provision. Following this consultation, one of the Committee's main conclusions was that the regulations for the B.A. Degree by Honours should be revised to require students to take a Part II to ensure that all pathways to the award are robust. The General Board, in the Michaelmas Term 2007, broadly accepted the advice of the Committee and agreed that proposals to amend the requirements for the B.A. Degree should be taken forward.

2. Currently a student is qualified to proceed to the degree of Bachelor of Arts by Honours if, in addition to meeting the residency requirements, he or she has obtained honours in:

(a) one Tripos examination, which may be Part II, or Part IIA or IIB, of any Tripos (for this purpose the one-part Management Studies Tripos and Linguistics Tripos under the Old Regulations are deemed to be equivalent to a Part II);

or

(b) any two Honours examinations provided that no student may count

      (i) two Parts IA;

      (ii) Part IA and IB of the same or different Triposes;

      (iii) two one-year Parts I;

      (iv) Part IA or IB of a Tripos together with a one-year Part I;

or

(c) any three Honours examinations;

or

(d) as otherwise provided for Affiliated Students in the regulations for Affiliated Students or in the regulations for any Tripos.

3. In August 2008, the Quality Assurance Agency published a revised national Framework for Higher Education which sets out descriptors for different levels of award (http://www.qaa.ac.uk/academicinfrastructure/FHEQ/default.asp). The Framework makes it clear that the title B.A. Degree with honours should only be used in respect of qualifications at level 6 which are awarded for achievement in full of the outcomes set out in the following qualification descriptor:

Bachelor's degrees with honours are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

In its recent institutional audit of the University, the QAA endorsed the General Board's decision to take forward proposals for revision of the requirements for the B.A. Degree and recommended1 that the University do so without undue delay.

4. The Higher Education Credit Framework (published following recommendations of the Burgess Review at http://www.qaa.ac.uk/england/credit/creditframework.asp) links to the Higher Education Qualification Framework and sets out expected minimum credit to be gained for various qualifications. Although the University does not currently operate a credit framework, the guidance provided is perhaps of some assistance in providing a quantification to the descriptors framework. It specifies that, for a B.A. Honours Degree, a minimum of 100 out of 360 credits of the award should be at level 6.

5. The numbers of students currently taking advantage of the route to the B.A. Degree not involving a Part II are small (19 in 2008, 21 in 2007, and 21 in 2006, representing just over half of one per cent of candidates proceeding to the B.A. Degree), with the most significant numbers being affiliated students, and in particular affiliated medical and veterinary students. The residence requirements for affiliated students, who already hold a recognized honours degree, are relaxed from a requirement for nine terms of residence to a requirement for six terms of residence. Affiliated medical and veterinary students take Part IA and Part IB of the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos together with professional Second M.B. or Second Vet.M.B. examinations which, together with an honours degree, qualify them to proceed to clinical studies. Under these proposals, affiliated medical and veterinary students would no longer qualify for a Cambridge B.A. (Honours) Degree on the basis of MVST Parts IA and IB. The standing of affiliated medical students for entry to clinical study would, however, not be affected. The Faculty Board of Veterinary Medicine have agreed that, if the proposals are approved, the requirement that students who have completed their preclinical study in Cambridge should hold a Cambridge B.A. (Honours) Degree to progress to the clinical course should be amended to require an honours degree of any university approved by the Faculty Board, in line with requirements for proceeding with the clinical medical course.

The current proposals would also close the option of affiliated students in other subjects from graduating with a Cambridge B.A. after two years on the basis of a two-year Part I or Part IA and IB of a Tripos. The option of taking a Part II, would, of course, remain open.

6. Although these proposals will result in greater restriction of the subject combinations available to students, the General Board are keen to retain the possibility of transfers between Triposes, and transfer into Part II courses will remain an option for suitably qualified students. Where transfer directly into a Part II is not permitted, the option of taking a further year would be permitted by the regulations to complete the requirements.

7. During the Michaelmas Term 2008, the General Board consulted Faculty Boards and the Senior Tutors' Committee specifically on whether a Part II should be a requirement for the B.A. Degree by Honours, and that completion of two or three Part I examinations should no longer lead to the degree. For these purposes the one-part Management Studies Tripos would continue to be deemed to be equivalent to a Part II. The responses to the consultation were mixed: a number of Faculty Boards welcomed the proposals; others, including the Senior Tutors' Committee, agreed with some regret, but accepted the external imperative for making the change. One Faculty Board did not support the proposals.

8. The General Board considers that the status quo involves reputational risk for the University. The legitimate expectations of existing students and those with offers of a place must, however, be preserved. In consequence, any change to the regulations would not be effective before 2012 (for affiliated students) or 2013 at the earliest.

9. The Council and the General Board now put forward this Report for consultation with the Regent House. In the light of comments made at the Discussion, and other comments, legislation will be prepared in due course for submission to the Regent House.

1 http://www.qaa.ac.uk/reviews/reports/institutional/CambridgeUni08/summary.asp



16 March 2009 ALISON RICHARD, Vice-Chancellor M. J. DAUNTON MAVIS MCDONALD
 ANTHONY BAGSHAW A. M. DONALD F. MORRISSEY
 NICK BAMPOS CHRISTOPHER HUM RACHAEL PADMAN
 NIGEL BROWN F. P. KELLY DAVID SIMON
 WILLIAM BROWN VANESSA LAWRENCE JOAN M. WHITEHEAD
 S. J. COWLEY DEBBIE LOWTHER S. J. YOUNG
4 March 2009 ALISON RICHARD, Vice-Chancellor WILLIAM BROWN J. RALLISON
 ANTHONY BAGSHAW PHILIP FORD JEREMY SANDERS
 GRAEME BARKER SIMON FRANKLIN PATRICK SISSONS
 JOHN BELL RACHAEL PADMAN I. H. WHITE
 TOM BLUNDELL  


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Cambridge University Reporter 22 April 2009
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.