Academic Standards and Regulatory Frameworks: Necessary Compromises?

Marie Stowell, Marie Falahee, Harvey Woolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
92 Downloads (Pure)


Assessment regulations in higher education, which are important for assuring threshold academic standards, reflect institutional cultures and histories, and are shaped by pragmatic concerns about quality indicators such as retention and progression rates, as well as principles of equity. This paper articulates some of the tensions that confront higher education institutions in the development and revision of regulatory frameworks, and describes a survey of assessment regulations from a sample of UK higher education institutions for the first year of undergraduate study. The survey identifies key variations in regulatory policy and practice that challenge assumptions about comparability of academic standards between higher education institutions. These findings imply that student success and progression may not be a simple reflection of academic attainment, and raise questions about notions of equity. It is intended that this research will contribute to informed discussion in the sector about academic standards and the regulatory frameworks underpinning first-year assessment policy and practice, and thus potentially lead to more transparent and consistent practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-531
Number of pages17
JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number4
Early online date8 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • assessment regulations
  • students progression
  • academic standards


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