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Published:  23 July, 2008

A record number of entrants has passed this year's WSET Diploma, with 300 candidates worldwide having passed all sections of the examination. Unlike this year's A-level results, however, accusations of dumbing down' are unlikely with the pass rate remaining extremely low for a professional qualification', according to Janet Bangs, director of WSET Awards. The increase in graduates is more to do with the increase in the number of candidates sitting the exam, which, with 23 examination centres in 13 countries, can now claim to be a truly international qualification. For the first time ever, the number of candidates sitting the examination overseas has exceeded the number of those sitting in the UK. To publish results like these is gratifying indeed,' said Bangs, especially when we have a total of 29 honours graduates who may subsequently be eligible for consideration for a scholarship at this year's award ceremony. However, we still have some concerns about a number of candidates who clearly tackle this very demanding qualification without fully appreciating what is involved. These poor performers diminish the success of our top achievers by pulling the pass rate down to an artificially low level. We hope that some of these failures may be the result of the increased pressure many candidates find themselves under while struggling to study for their exams and meet targets in the workplace.' She also said that the new modular diploma syllabus will allow candidates to sign up for as little or as much as they feel capable of successfully achieving.' She added that the changes to the Advanced Certificate, which now includes a practical tasting question, should mean the gap between the two exams is less severe than in the past.