Business and Humanities Schools perform strongest in first semester exams

DCU’s Business School and the School of Humanities achieved the highest overall pass rates of all faculties in final exams in semester one.

Almost 93 per cent of final exams taken in modules delivered by the Business School received a pass grade. Of the 4,598 exams taken, 4,276 were passed and only 322 registered a fail.

The Humanities and Social Sciences faculty had a similar pass rate of 92.8 per cent but with significantly more final exams in modules delivered. Of the 7,689 exams taken, 7,135 received a pass grade and 554 a fail.

Meanwhile, the Engineering and Computing faculty had the lowest pass rate in final exams taken in modules delivered with a 76.3 per cent pass rate. Of the 4,400 exams sat, 3,359 received a pass grade and 1,041 a fail.

Almost 90 per cent of final exams taken in modules delivered by the Science and Health faculty received a pass rate; 11,573 exams were supplied and 10,371 received a pass grade and 1,202 registered a fail.

Responding to whether or not the statistics point to easier or harder courses to fail or pass at DCU, Aisling McKenna, a Research and Analysis Officer at DCU, explained that the data surrounds modules which are typically across several programmes. Therefore the data is not necessarily statistically significant at this point of the academic year.

McKenna said: “It is hard to tell which programmes are so-called ‘easy to pass’ and which ones are really difficult to pass.
“The number one reason for dropping out at DCU is not failing the coursework,  but rather it is picking the wrong course…the course content just doesn’t meet your expectations”.

McKenna rejected the notion that courses with a heavy emphasis on continuous assessment, as opposed to exam based programmes, are easier to score highly because assessments are marked anonymously.

An Irish Times survey carried out in 2012 found that students are more likely to graduate with a first-class honours degree from DCU than any other university.

The survey, which combined awards over a seven year period from 2005 -2012, found that 19 per cent of students managed to score top marks.

However, an analysis of figures obtained from the Higher Education Authority shows there has been a sharp decline in the amount of firsts awarded by DCU since 2005 when, at 25.5 –per cent, it awarded more firsts than any other university.

Figures for the academic calendar year 2011/12 show that Dublin City University awarded 17.7 per cent of graduating students a first class honour. Almost 27 per cent received a second class honour grade one award, with the remaining 56 per cent receiving a second class honour grade two or lower award.

NUI Maynooth, University of Limerick and NUI Galway awarded higher percentages of first class honours and all of the six other Irish universities awarded more second class honour grade one awards.

A survey of graduate employers, including KPMG and Mars Ireland, conducted by GradIreland in 2012 found that 58 per cent of those surveyed expected their applicants to have a 2.1 degree or higher. This has resulted in increased competition for places on top graduate programmes.

Although this seems to be a continuing trend among employers, speaking on RTÉ’s The John Murray Show last week, Louise Phelan, Vice President of Global Customer Services for Europe, Middle East and Africa at PayPal said: “We have some amazing graduates working with us… but others are not streetwise and lack experience. They may have lots of academic achievements but no practical skills.” Phelan added that of the 1,800 people employed by PayPal in Ireland, 60 per cent are not graduates.

DCU statistics relate to undergraduate students and exclude those who fail to attend exams, deferrals and students who were too ill to sit exams.

Jennifer Holmes

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