Breakdown of papers by average mark.

Jamie Parkinson-Wisely made this Official Information request to University of Otago

University of Otago did not have the information requested.

From: Jamie Parkinson-Wisely

Dear University of Otago,

I would like to request under the Official Information Act some information in regards to student grades with specific reference to all papers across all subject and their associated average mark for the last three years. For example in 2014 the average mark of PHIL 105 was 86%.

If the related course only uses a pass/fail mechanism the results are not of interest to me and can therefore be removed from any response given.

While not required under the Act, it has been brought to my attention that the purpose of a request is often useful in determining how to respond to that particular request. This request is to gain an understanding of how the marking is done in certain subjects and papers. It has often been rumored that some papers have less value than others due to them being graded less strictly. This information will provide conclusive information.

I understand that this is a large amount of information to provide and therefore am perfectly happy to reduce the paper sample to just those related to a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws as I am more involved with this area of the university.

Yours faithfully,

J R B Parkinson-Wisely

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From: Chris Stoddart
University of Otago

Attachment Parkinson Wisely Paper Grades 3 2 2016.pdf
3.1M Download View as HTML

Dear J R B Parkinson-Wisely


Please find attached the University of Otago response to your Official
Information Act request, received by email on 11 January, 2016.


Kind regards



Chris Stoddart • Manager, Policy and Compliance • Academic Services • Te
Kaiwhakahaere Matua o Te Ratoka Mātauraka • University of Otago • Tel +64
3 479 8993


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Waikato Scam left an annotation ()

The response is just insulting to your intelligence and the intelligence of everyone else. Strange for a university you would think.

Firstly, this data is computerised and all they have to do is run a single SQL statement or export the data to an Excel sheet, select a column for each course and ask for the average. Alternatively, they could just ask the lecturers to provide the averages from their grade sheets or Moodle. Really this can be done without effort in the modern world. Unless of course the university is saying it still keeps its records on paper.

Secondly, if bad students selected courses based on past averages, then, assuming good academic quality, the average would change next time and so the problem they hypothesise as a justification for not providing the information would self right itself.

Additionally, good universities generally produce this information in the form of rankings in any case, so the fear is just not valid.

See the LinkedIn article discussing this issue in New Zealand here for more information:

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Things to do with this request

University of Otago only: