The college graduate is presented with a sheepskin to cover his intellectual nakedness. -- Robert M. Hutchins. Every Pakistani university has adopted his own version of grading system in the last 10 years. As a result, it is not easy to judge the student's performance during his course, by some outsider, only on the basis of his transcript report. In a single grading system (good or bad) atleast a student from any university can be compared with another one. Why it cannot happen with different grading systems?
As soon as the system was shifted from the annual system to semester system, absolute grading system of the annual system was shifted to the new one with some modification. Question papers started to be prepared, checked and graded by the teacher who teaches the subject. The idea behind this shift was on the opinion that teacher who teaches the subject, can judge the student more than anyone else. But no one has ever bothered to make a standard of papers. The teachers started to develop low quality sub-standard papers to get good grades of the class to show that they are teaching excellent. Those who tried to judge the students with the quality paper soon become bad in the eyes of the authorities due to low grades. Students coming from this absolute system, mostly fail to perform equivalent to their grades in their result cards.
Some of the public and private sector Pakistani universities have started to shift from the absolute system to their own relative grading system. The mostly adopted relative system is the one in which marks of the whole class is averaged and given 'C+' in bachelors and 'B' in master degrees. Argue presented for this system is that teacher will not have to make a sub-standard paper. A good student will be able to get 'A' grade even if the quality of the paper is very high as he will have more marks than any of his class fellows. While implementing this system universities fail to understand that this system was developed for the classes where strength of the students should be above 100 whereas in our engineering colleges or universities, on an average, a class mostly has 25 to 50 students. The smaller the class, the problem of higher average becomes more prominent and as a consequence even the good student becomes victim of low grades if most of his fellow students are also good in study. This problem leads to another problem as well, as the fear of high average comes to the mind of the students; they stop helping each other in the studies. Apart from this, most of the students coming from this system perform better in the industry even with low grades but when they try to apply for higher studies within or outside Pakistan, normally these students, not able to get admission as they use to have low grades as compare to the students coming from the universities having absolute system. Here again, student’s grades do not represent their quality.
In conclusion we can say either a student coming from absolute system or relative grading system; his grades do not represent him. There is a need that there should be one standard all over the country either it is absolute or relative. At least then, one can be compared with some other on the basis of result card and everyone should get his fare chance of higher education as well as jobs.