JIS News

The University of the West Indies (UWI) has introduced the Grade Point Average (GPA) system to its academic programmes, to bring about greater clarity and definition of the different categories of first degrees awarded by the institution.
The GPA, which took effect at the beginning of the 2003/04 academic year, applies to all students entering the institution in that year and in subsequent years.
Explaining how the system works, at a seminar for principals and guidance counsellors at the UWI, Mona Campus today, Anthony Perry, Project Officer, Board of Undergraduate Studies at the UWI said: “the office of the Board of Undergraduate Studies decides in someway who comes in and who gets out and a very bold step we took, which has taken us nearly 20 years, is the introduction of Grade Point Average”.
“This will decipher for us within the faculties how we determine the class of degree our students will get,” pointing out: “We are not attempting to look like the United States. We recognize that even in Great Britain, there have been concerns about what do we mean by First Class Honours degrees and Upper Second Class Honours”.
He stated that the majority of the graduates that left the institution had moved on to other universities in the United States to do further studies. “We are making our system more transparent, more understandable to those outside of this region. We decided to use Grade Point Average to give greater clarity to what we mean when we say our students are performing at a certain level,” he said.
Mr. Perry noted that by using this system it gave more objectivity when a degree was declared a Pass, Lower Second, Upper Second and Honours.
He said the university was also moving to a point where each student’s grade was computed so as to be able to track his performance.
The Project Officer said that by the year 2006 all students’ degrees would be based upon the GPA system.
Citing the advantages of the GPA, he said it would allow the student to keep track of his performance throughout the degree programme and would allow the faculty to identify the student’s academic needs and provide advice and guidance to the students.
The GPA is a four point system whereby four passing grades, namely A, B, C and D, are awarded quality points as follows: A – valuing four points, B – three points, C – two points and D – one point.
Under this new system, first degrees awarded by the University with the exception of the Bachelor of Science (BSc) (Engineering), LL.B (Law), Medicine and Surgery (MB BS), (Medicine) Dental Surgery (DDS) and Veterinary Medicine (DVM) are classified as: First Class Honours will record a GPA of 3.60 and above; Upper Second Class Honours will record a GPA of 3.00 to 3.59; Lower Second Class Honours at GPA 2.00 to 2.90 and Pass at GPA 1.00 to 1.99.
GPA will be applicable to the Faculties of Medicine Science and Law at a later date.
Turning to the area of scholarships, Mr. Perry said the University was seeking to increase the numbers of scholarships offered from 30 to 100 depending on the availability of funding.
He also disclosed that Trinidadians and Barbadians were doing much better at these scholarship examinations than Jamaican students. Although unable to say why these students performed better, Mr. Perry pointed out that it was the student with high academic performance that did well at these scholarship examinations.
“We do not wish to tell guidance counsellors to discourage any student from writing an exam but it is the student who we believe is of the highest academic ability that are most likely to benefit,” he pointed out.

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