The strategic view - how can contextualised admissions work

Report
The strategic view – how can contextualised
admissions work in the new competitive environment
and what does the SPA research tell us?
Janet Graham and Peter Chetwynd, SPA
What is SPA and why did we commission this research?
SPA’s mission and role
SPA promotes fair admissions and access to higher education in the UK
by developing and leading on good practice in the recruitment and
selection of students.
 SPA is an independent and objective Programme, funded by HEFCE,
DELNI, SFC, UCAS and Universities UK
 We evaluate and commission research enabling us to develop evidence
based good practice
 Interest in using contextual data in HE providers is growing, as
highlighted in the SPA survey on contextual data use, February 2013
What is Fair Admissions?
1. be transparent
2. enable institutions to select students who are able to
complete the course as judged by their achievements and
“Equal
opportunity for all
their potential
individuals,
regardless
of that are reliable and
3. strive to use assessment
methods
valid
background,
to gain
4. seek to minimise
admission
to a barriers
courseto applicants
5. be professional in every respect and underpinned by
suited
to
their
ability
and
appropriate institutional structures and processes
aspirations.”
Fair admissions and fair access: what’s the difference?
 If fair admissions covers the five principles, is
fair access about getting more disadvantaged
students into ‘top’ universities? Supporting the
most able but least likely to apply?
 Yes, but that’s only part of the issue
 Raising aspirations and encouraging and
supporting all students with potential to aim
higher for an HE course that is right for them
at an institution that can provide what they
need, when they need it - full-time, part-time,
flexible or distance learning etc
What is contextualised admissions?
Contextualised admissions is defined as contextual information
and contextual data used by HE providers to assess an
applicant’s prior attainment and potential to succeed in higher
education in the context of the circumstances in which their
attainment has been obtained.
Contextualised admissions and holistic assessment
Initial basket of data for HEIs, via UCAS, for 2014 entry
Educational Background
 School performance: % of students
achieving 5+ Standard grade SCQF
level 4 including English and Maths
(or equivalent A*-C GCSE)
Socio-Economic Background
 % of students registered for free
school meals by School (historical
data only by Local Authority)
 % of students entitled to EMA (not
England)
 Average point score by school “best
8” Standard grade SCQF level 4 (or
Basket of Data
Lives in a low progression to higher
equivalent for GCSE. Not available
education neighbourhood (POLAR 2
NI)
and POLAR 3) derived from postcode
 Scottish Highers average point score
 SIMD Scottish Index of Multiple
per Higher entry and points for
Deprivation (SFC version)
Highers per student (or equivalent for
Supplied free by UCAS, if universities
A level. Not available NI)
and colleges sign up to take it.
Why use contextualised admissions?
Universities UK
“Student recruitment would be relatively straightforward if
we had a level playing field, with all young people,
wherever they lived, whatever their parental background,
and the type of school they attended, having an equal
chance of attaining the highest grades of which they
were capable and progressing on to university.”
Unfortunately this is not the case.
External policy drivers impacting admissions
External policy drivers impacting admissions
 Increasing divergence in the HE policy frameworks round the UK:
 Changes and developments to the Pre-HE curriculum
 Issues round advice and guidance for potential students
 Student number controls - policy varies round UK
 Tuition fees and student finance – policy varies round UK
 But HE providers recruit UK-wide, changing patterns of behaviour
 Demographics - Fewer young applicants until 2020
Strategy in a competitive landscape
Competition between HE
providers is growing.
There is an increasing
need to seek out students
with potential from a wider
range of backgrounds.
Strategy in a competitive landscape
So does this mean moving away from academic rigor and high
standards?
No.
 It is about supporting the delivery of fair admissions and maintaining high
academic standards.
 It is about seeking excellence by identifying the ‘best’ applicants with the
greatest potential and likelihood of a successful degree outcome.
Strategic importance of contextualised admissions:
Facilitates
reaching targets
Helps identify applicants
who may benefit from
additional support
Improves calibre
of entrants
through
identifying
potential
Helps delivery of
fair admissions
Supports the
applicant
experience
Widens
participation and
enhances
diversity of the
student body
Helps assess applicants
for financial support
Could aid social
mobility
SPA Research: What is contextualised admissions?
Contextual Data
Contextual Information
 from data fields in applications,
 gained through assessment of
information about applicant
circumstances e.g. from
o personal statement
o reference
o additional questionnaire
o local knowledge of schools
and colleges
 or data linked to application data
field.
 can include data provided from
public sources via UCAS or from
commercial or other sources
(government departments/
agencies).
 flagging or coding is often employed
by universities and colleges.
 not new but can be ad-hoc
“There is a degree of fairness and
transparency… and at least we are being
consistent. It’s better than stereotypical
decision making by an individual member of
an admissions team.”
 Contextual data provide an opportunity for
systematic and transparent use of additional
applicant information
How did the researchers examine the evidence for
contextual data in admissions?
 Undergraduate admissions

To what extent is evidence available?

How is evidence used?
 Stakeholder interviews
 Desk Research
 Scoping Survey
 Institutional visits

Selection of institutions

Telephone interviews
Why is contextual data used?
Academic Excellence
 Competition
 Evidence-base
 Increase applicant pool
 External policy drivers
 Diversity as pedagogical value
Fair admissions
“We are very aware of the differences out there, and it’s obvious
when students come to study with us that the brightest sparks do
not always come with the best grades.”
What is the Challenge?
Destination
Origin
Social Class
Gender
Ethnicity
Admission
School
Area
Merit
School/college grades
Evidence 1:
What matters for measuring academic potential?
Area
 Scientific ‘Gold standard’:
good, individual-level data
Caveats:
School
 Data availability
Household
 Expertise and cost
 Limitations (often young, UK
domiciled HE applicants)
Individual
 Outreach or / and
admissions
Evidence 2: Same grades
same potential
 Students from different types of school perform differently
 In the majority of research, those from state schools outperform
independent school students or those from poorer performing schools
outperform those from higher performing schools
(Oxford, Bristol, Cardiff, HEFCE, Scottish institution)
 This is not confirmed in one other case study where school did not affect
degree results
(Cambridge)
 Studies use different ways of thinking about and measuring disadvantage
as well as attainment
Evidence 3:
Positive progress where students admitted using contextual data
 Positive benefits for individual providers (recruitment, conversions, PIs)
“…can only work if you get the applicants…. to do that you have to
change the perception that the university is ‘not for me’.”
 Comparative research into performance of contextualised students
supports the approach
 Research into outcomes achieved by WP outreach groups confirms
performance (e.g. PARTNERS, LEAPS)
 Building commitment to those who enter
Evidence 4: Transferring evidence into practice

‘Formal’ application of contextual data into holistic
decision making
Case study providers
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
F
F
TA
TA
F
F
FA
F
AO
I
GO/I
AO
MO
Methodology:
Application of data
Approach:
Implications (beyond
additional consideration)
AO
(some)
Contextual data indicators
School performance indicator for Level 2/age 16
School/college performance indicator for Level 3/age 18
School/college higher education progression indicator
Low Participation Neighbourhood indicator
Area of relative deprivation
Other geo-demographic indicator (ACORN and OAC)
Outreach indicator (completion of agreed programme)
Declaration of exceptional circumstance
Higher education background indicator
‘In care’ indicator
Other individual indicator (refugees)
1

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
 
 

 
 

 


 

 


 
 


     


Useful practices
 Using multiple datasets
 Checking information
 Using ranked data
 Using additional information for marginal decisions
 Dealing with missing data
Recommendations
Rationale and understanding

Conceptual clarity

Sharing expertise, good practice and networking

Communication
Data and indicators

Centralised data provision

Data transfer
Research

Long term comparative research

Other admissions

Different provider contexts
From the report to practice:
 Use of contextual data and information aligned to strategic mission
 Contextual data can be a helpful part of holistic admissions
 Senior management buy-in
 Good record keeping

Linked systems for widening participation, admission, student
progression, graduation and beyond

Create / use HEI own ‘baseline’ evidence base
From the report to practice:
 Know what data is out there and how to use it

Appropriately trained staff
 Transparency about how and when contextual data is used
 Integrated approach to outreach and admissions

and ideally to support the student experience, retention, and
graduation

‘Access without support is not opportunity’
 If possible, sharing of expertise, creation of a comparative evidencebase
Any questions?
Janet Graham and Peter Chetwynd
More information from SPA
[email protected] or 01242 544891
www.spa.ac.uk

similar documents