In the first year with simple opt outs, 36.5% of eligible students chose to opt out of having their marks displayed both online and on notice boards outside of Senate HouseLouis Ashworth

The University has published the class lists, the annual record of Tripos results, in the first year following the introduction of the simple opt-out procedure. Released on 21st November, significantly later than in previous years, this year’s class lists offer a potentially distorted view of overall attainment, due to the fact that more than a third of students chose to opt out of having their names and grades listed.

In the past three years, the class lists have been released on 12th October, 15th September and 7th September, respectively.

In response to a Varsity request for comment in mid-October, the Cambridge University Reporter team, which is responsible for the publication of the class lists, said that they expected the class lists to be published “a little later than usual but for no reason other than [the Reporter team's] availability to complete the work on it.”

Asked about the future of the publication of class lists, particularly in light of new data protection regulation and the simple opt-out procedure, the Reporter team said: “Class-lists will continue to be published in the Reporter until such time as the Regent House approves a contrary change to the relevant regulations.”

In June, Varsity reported that 36.5% of eligible students chose to opt out of having their marks displayed both online and on notice boards outside of Senate House, representing 4,570 undergraduates and 103 postgraduates out of a total of 12,803 eligible students. Students were able to opt out for the first time in the last exam cycle by checking a box in their CamSIS accounts.

Opt-out rates were particularly high among first-year female students and arts students.

This is clearly demonstrated when comparing, as one example, English and Maths Tripos results. Student numbers listed for the English Tripos have more than halved since the easy opt-out was introduced last year, with 193 Part II students listed for the 2016-17 academic year compared to just 88 for 2017-18. Contrastingly, the Maths Tripos published results saw a far smaller drop; 217 Part II students had their results published in 2017 compared to 182 in 2018, a trend that was similarly reflected among first and second year students.

In the cases of both Maths and English, the percentage of those listed who attained a First was higher this year than the year before, while the percentage of those listed to have attained a 2:ii or Third decreased.

The introduction of the simple opt-out option for Class Lists cast doubt as to whether the Tompkins Table, the annual ranking of colleges based on exam results, would be able to continue. Peter Tompkins, who has created the Table annually since 1981, said that although this year he was unable to see results and calculate the Table himself, he was able to ask a college tutor “who has access” to the results of all students – including those who opted out – to make the calculations using his formula.


Mountain View

Class lists are becoming redundant – and rightly so

Tutorial offices of every college were provided with two versions of the class lists: the first one excluded students who had opted out and was able to be published publicly, and the second was a confidential version with the full results of all students.

In April 2016, Varsity revealed that a review of class lists by the General Board of Faculties had recommended that class lists be abolished, a view which the University Council echoed. The CUSU president at the time, Priscilla Mensah, had cited a motion passed at a poorly-attended CUSU Council as evidence of student support for abolition.

Attempts to abolish class lists were halted in November 2016 after a referendum launched by campaign group ‘Save the Class Lists’ found 55.2% of students in favour of an easier opt-out rather than total abolition, and after Regent House blocked a Grace that had proposed the lists’ elimination.