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Not what I would advise, no

Santander becomes first major UK bank to hire graduates with a third class degree

Well, yes, sorta:

Around 16pc of students who leave university graduate with a 2:2 degree or a third, Santander said. The move will therefore open up to thousands of new potential candidates as applications open later this month.

Ah, no. Firsts and 2.1, show a certain amount of brains and also application. Now that Oxford no longer offers the fourth, that means that we’re left with the distinction between a Gentleman’s Third and a Desmond.

The Third is something of a distinction in fact. Clearly bright enough to be there in the first place, entirely capable of doing the work, just not doing any of it. A Desmond is merely the sign of a dullard.

The correct change is therefore to take Thirds but not 2.2s.

As an added bonus question, guess the degree of the writer.

25 thoughts on “Not what I would advise, no”

  1. Doesn’t grade inflation mean that a 2:2 is the new Third? Besides, perhaps a staid bank (Santander is the old Abbey National and Alliance & Leicester) would prefer to hire dullards.

  2. Hmmm, it’s a tough one. Should we hire that girl with a 2.2 in business / gender / media studies from London South Bank or that bloke with a third in physics from Bath?

  3. I suspect it depends on what university is awarding the degree as well as what subject.

    I imagine a 2.2 or even a third from Oxford is better than a first from Oxford Brookes.

    I suspect (hope) that a 2.2 in Maths is better than a first in grievance studies from the same institution

  4. @Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    The LSE Library is a curiosity. It’s 80 per cent spiral staircase. Very odd choice. Books? Desks? Nah. Hail our massive staircase! Marvel at it!

  5. The Third from a Russell Group Uni isn’t a statement that the graduate was bright enough to get there in the first place and then something went wrong, but rather that the graduate got there through some sort of ‘connection’, and wasn’t bright enough in the first place. In other words, he/she/it/they were, and will be forever, a pretentious twat determined to prove that their third is better than even a first from a ‘lesser place’. Don’t ask me how I know.

  6. I’ll guess a 2.1?

    Unlike the all must have prizes degrees of today, Firsts at that time outside Oxbridge were hen’s teeth degrees generally reserved for geniuses (in STEM) or swotty types uninterested in women or drink.

  7. “The Third is something of a distinction in fact. Clearly bright enough to be there in the first place”

    Not really in this day and age. You can get in to Uni with a some very below average results. If 50% of all 18 year olds are going to uni you can bet your bottom dollar plenty of those are of well below average intelligence. There’s no way the system is selecting just the top half. Put it this way I know a number of graduates who I wouldn’t trust to tie their own shoe laces.

  8. At the time Oxford first started to issue formal IIis and IIiis, the rule of thumb was 8-10% got Firsts, and the formal rule was that 2/3 of candidates would get a First or a IIi.

    Interestingly, a friend who placed (IIRC) 11th out of 300 in his year for Physics told me the exam process was designed to separate the really top guys from the run-of-the-mill Firsts. Everyone else just hunkered down to get as far up the ladder as they could.

  9. @Andrew M – January 4, 2023 at 9:01 am

    Doesn’t grade inflation mean that a 2:2 is the new Third?

    From the recent graduates that it’s been my “pleasure” to meet, I’d say that it’s more likely a 2:1 from a half-decent uni and a First from the dregs.

    From memory, the two “Russell Group” unis that had the pleasure of my scholastic ability in the late 60s / early-to-mid 70s rarely awarded more than a couple of Firsts a year, if at all. Nowadays it looks like almost everyone gets Firsts or Upper Seconds and the nearest equivalent of a decent degree “in my day!” is a Masters.

  10. Standards used to vary across similar departments never mind universities. A chum of mine was in a penultimate year class in Physical Chemistry where all the top spots went to people from the Chemical Engineering and Chemical Physics degrees i.e. nobody from the Chemistry department was top-hole in Phys Chem. Yet the next year the Chemistry course awarded proportionately more firsts than those other two courses. C’est la bleedin’ vie.

  11. Direct comparison of the worth of grades and indeed degrees between a time where less than 10% of young people attended university to todays prizes for everyone system are meaningless.

    The same applies to “A” levels where the grade A through E pass rate came within a hair’s breadth of 90% in 2021, up an astonishing 21% since 1982 having also increased in 19 successive years.

    Even Lake Wobegon would be hard pressed to match that.

  12. Don’t see how any impression you all got from when you graduated still counts in grade-inflated 2023. I dropped out of Imperial in 1967 when it still was respectable and nobody has asked or cared since.

  13. Back in the day (early 1990s), the entire graduating cohort for the BEng(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering course at my original alma mater produced… one single First out of something like seventy graduates.

    It also produced a student who scraped through the gap between Douglas Hurd and failure, with an “Unclassified Pass with Honours”… though they did go on to do well regardless (by the time you’re a Chartered Engineer and have added the first Master’s degree, nobody notices your first one)

  14. Anonymouse Cowherd

    @ John
    Indeed, you really can’t make direct comparisons when the conditions have changed so much.

    But, back to Tim’s analysis …
    There’s a lot of bias and conjecture in his put down of people getting thirds. In case it’s not obvious, I got a third – in Engineering, from Oxford. It was hard work, but what made it impossible (or at least, impractical) for me to get at least a 2.2 is that I’m autistic (something else Tim has some incorrect assumptions about) and “gifted” (it really has never felt like a “gift” should) and had been failed by the education system up to and including university.

    If you really are, in Tim’s vernacular, a dullard – then the state gives you special support. If you are at the bottom of the bell curve then there’s help there. But woe is anyone up at the top end of the curve – there’s no help there, you are left to fend for yourself, school becomes something you endure without the challenge (or any support) needed to learn how to learn. That’s what happens when you put 30+ children of mixed ability into one class – the teacher will teach to the average (or perhaps a little below it), those at the bottom (if they aren’t lucky enough to get diagnosed as such) get left behind and learn that “they are useless”* even though they may well have latent skills that could be brought out, and those at the top (even if they are recognised) are simply bored sh*tless and mostly waste however many years they endure of it. Yes, I was at the top – according to Mensa, in the top 1% – but guess what, I don’t normally tell people I’m in Mensa as that too tends to get disparaging comments as well.
    * Mrs Cowherd was also failed at school. She wasn’t gifted at maths (well basic numeracy really at the level she talks about), but such was the pressure that “you will understand this stuff without it being taught properly for your level of ability” that she simply turned off – from school as a whole, not just maths. She is very gifted in many ways, and for someone who “can’t do maths”, she can certainly add up numbers quickly.

    So you go through the system, without the push and support needed to learn how to harness your ability. By the time you get to A-levels (or whatever they are called this week) you’ll find it more challenging – but with some effort you’ll manage to scrape through with the grades (or an unconditional offer if the tutor interviewing you recognises you for what you are – sorry prof for pulling your grades down) to go to university. By then, the bar is raised, but you never learned how to jump a low bar well – so you struggle, and at the end of it you come out with a “poor” degree.

    And then you are out into the world of work – which is all designed for “normal” people. It’s bloody hard work pretending to be normal and working out what the hell the “norms” are for all these unwritten rules you are expected to follow. So just like when you were back at school, you still get labelled with things like “awkward”, “disruptive”, and so on.

    Then on a hunch, you get your GP to refer you – and you get a diagnosis. It doesn’t change who or what you are – but it sure makes a lot of those problems you’ve had for all those years make some sense. You even find yourself working for an employer that pats itself on it’s back for how supportive and inclusive it is – but find that behind the bold claims, things are much the same except that you have an answer when HR come calling with the latest complaint that your directness was taken by someone as rude, offensive, bullsh*tting, or whatever offence some woke snowflake took to being told the truth without any sugar coating.

  15. “There’s a lot of bias and conjecture in his put down of people getting thirds. In case it’s not obvious, I got a third”

    So did I. Which is a good part of what the joke is about. You *should* hire Thirds because they’re the clever people who didn’t do the work. It’s the Desmonds who have to be rejected – they’re the dullards.

  16. So much agree with you there, Jim. The really bright people don’t go to university in the first place. They don’t need to. The grads are only trying to catch up.

  17. Mr. Worstall

    Well, I got a 2.2.
    And was roundly chastised (by sundry professors) for being such a lazy bastard because clearly I could have done better.


    But I didn’t.

    My excuse was that I’d already *done* essentially all the maths and physics taught in the first two years at uni at my high school (halfway thru 3rd yr sixth when I buggered off for work experience being a lab assistant doing electronics stuff before going to uni; fun, that. Learned things). So I was bored stiff. But found lots of other fun things to do. [Including lab work for physics – they invented quite interesting things for me to do, because the standard labs were much too simple for my genius…]

  18. Bloke in the Fourth Reich


    I will come and marvel, if the LSE library adheres to the old tradition of allowing graduate members of other academic libraries day access. They will probably be delighted actually to have any physical customer wanting any kind of physical access.

    Of course, I’ll have to go and get me Manchester library card renewed first.

  19. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Incidentally, the year I graduated, the first _ever_ first class degree in my combination was awarded. Over 1000 students had previously graduated with the same degree.

    Wasn’t me.

  20. Let us not forget that due to Covid, many institutions relaxed their entry requirements for a couple of years.
    Maybe Santander have taken a good look into their crystal ball, seen what’s coming through the educational pipeline, and are planning accordingly.

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