One grading system for all

By Wendy Maloff

Inter-university transfers in Alberta just got a lot easier.

Last month, the Universities Coordinating Council decided to have Alberta’s four universities and five university colleges adopt a universal grade point average system.

"The universities and colleges currently use several different grading systems, " explained University of Calgary registrar Dr. Gary Krivy. "It was decided that it would be ideal if there was one grading system. Mainly this was for ease of transferability, and getting into the professional schools."

U of C Students’ Union Vice-president Academic Nic Porco agreed.

"Students staying at the U of C will not be adversely affected, and transfer students will be better off," he said.

The UCC struck a committee with representatives from each of the nine institutions to address whether it would be possible to change to a common system and what system would be ideal.

"They looked at some of the most popular systems, not just within Alberta, but also within North America," explained Dr. Krivy.

"Committee members were mindful of the need for grading systems to articulate well with as many other universities as possible," said University of Alberta registrar Brian Silzer.

The committee chose a 4.0 GPA system, with an honorific A+ grade. There will not be the addition of a D- grade.

"The 4.0 system with the letter grading system from A to F was found to be the most recognized in North America," said Dr. Krivy.

The institutions most affected are Athabasca University and the University of Alberta. Both currently use a percentage system and a 9.0 GPA system, respectively. Despite complications in changing their current system, the U of A was the first to approve the common 4.0 system on March 19, 2001.

"The U of A already had the mindset that they needed to change their grading system," said Dr. Krivy. "They had previously passed a motion to look at their current grading system and perhaps use something more common."

In preparation for the new system, professors will need to be introduced to the additions and adjustments will have to be made to
computer systems.

The most noticeable change for the U of C will be the addition of the A+ grade, that will receive the same 4.0 grade as the A. It will be taken into account when students apply for scholarships and other awards.

"Even though there’s no difference in the GPA, as a result of the 4.0, when students apply for scholarships, their transcripts will show that they had A+ grades and were at the top of their class," explained Dr. Krivy.

The U of C will implement the new system in fall of 2002, and U of A in fall 2003. The other institutions will adopt the system within that timeline and will continue using their current systems until then.

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