In the past, assessment in higher education has been treated as a matter determined by, and confidential to, Boards of Examiners. In future, however, this may have to change in response to a number of changes in the context of higher education. The student population is more diverse and is taking an increasing control of the curriculum through the modularisation of courses. Student charters instil expectations that details of assessment procedures will be made explicit and published. Awards may increasingly be challenged. This paper examines a number of issues which will have to be debated more openly in the future. They include the statistics of aggregating component grades into degree classes, the widening range of skills covered by higher education courses and the most appropriate formats for summative reporting. The paper aims not to offer answers but to help to clarify some of the questions around which debate will be required. © 1996 Journals Oxford Ltd.