Grades do have a bearing

Joseph Bush*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter, comment/opinion or interviewpeer-review


I am afraid that I need to challenge the assertion made by Rachel Airley in her letter (PJ, 10 March 2012, p308) that “there is no clear cut evidence that UCAS points obtained at school have any bearing on final degree performance”.

Research from the Higher Education Funding Council for England — the body responsible for the distribution of funding to universities in England — shows that educational attainment before entry to higher education (ie, A-level grades) is the most important factor in determining academic success on undergraduate degree programmes.1,2 Indeed, research I have recently conducted on a cohort of MPharm students at Aston University (which will hopefully be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal shortly) demonstrates a strong positive correlation between UCAS Tariff points per A-level and final degree classification.

As Dr Airley highlights in her letter, competition for places on MPharm programmes remains fierce and, in response to high levels of demand, her own institution has increased its standard entry offer. If UCAS Tariff points have little predictive ability of performance on the MPharm programme then, aside from minimising the administrative burden that the admissions process places on an institution, what is the logic behind increasing standard entry offers?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340
Number of pages1
JournalPharmaceutical Journal
Issue number7697
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2012


  • education program
  • human
  • letter
  • medical education
  • pharmaceutics


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