The applicant experience – research summary UWE – 7

Welcome and context for professional admissions
SPA Seminar in Northern Ireland - 12 April 2011
Janet Graham, Director of SPA
What is SPA?
 SPA - the Supporting Professionalism in Admissions Programme
 Established in 2006 following the Schwartz Report, Fair Admissions to
Higher Education 2004
 Small team, with over 70 years strategic, policy
and practical experience between us in the HE
admissions sector
 UK’s independent and objective voice on HE
admissions, reporting to the SPA Steering Group
What have we been doing?
 A free, impartial, central shared source of expertise and advice on
strategy and policy on admissions and student recruitment issues
 Good practice statements and check lists - see
 Research and evidence base from: visits to over 130 institutions; events
and activities. 207 different institutions have attended SPA events
 HEI survey (part of SPA External Evaluation 2011) highlighted:
 88% engaged with SPA resources (events, website etc)
 66% thought SPA ‘responsive’ or ‘very responsive’ to their needs
 SPA was strategically well-placed and proactively anticipated change
What are we doing?
Published good practice on:
Current research:
Admissions policies
Applicant experience strategy
Admissions tests
Contextual data
Criminal convictions
Paperless processes
Feedback to applicants
Postgraduate admissions
Vocational qualifications
Planning and managing admissions
All available on our website:
Professionalism: Context, Challenges, Opportunities
 Impact round the UK of Browne Review and government response in
England. Package:
Lifting tuition fee cap to maximum ‘exceptional’ tuition fees of £9,000
Charge over £6,000 HEI needs new Access Agreement for OFFA
New National Scholarship Programme
New student finance system
 HE White Paper in England expected June 2011
 Comprehensive Spending Review - cuts to the public HE funding
 Recession, rise in VAT rate and inflation
Professionalism: Context, Challenges, Opportunities
 Demographic down turn in younger applicants
 Current buoyancy in applications to FT undergraduate courses
 HE funding Green Paper in Scotland - December 2010
 Consultations in Northern Ireland: fees, HE and WP strategies
 New educations powers, fees and new WP strategy in Wales
 A new competitive market/ differentiated system in HE
 Efficiency savings - doing more for less - will be imperative
 Admissions to HE has irrevocably changed - entering a new era
Professionalism: Context, Challenges, Opportunities
Consultations, from DEL in NI, on a range of issues impacting
admissions and widening participation:
 Higher Education Strategy Consultation, closing date 15 April
 Higher Education Widening Participation Strategy, closing date 3 June
 HE tuition fees, closing date 10 June
Elections on 5 May to NI Assembly (and round UK)
Professionalism: Context, Challenges, Opportunities
QAA Code of practice on admissions 2006 –HEIs should be working to its
New QAA Institutional review process for academic quality and standards in
HEIs in England and Northern Ireland. The process replaces institutional audit,
from September 2011.
 Admissions within core element of ‘quality of students' learning opportunities’
 It will consider what is provided, not how appropriate, which is up to the HEI
 The ‘quality of public information, including that produced for students and
applicants’ the Key Information Set, KIS, will be included in any review from
2012/13 onwards, judged through ‘a desk-based analysis of the institution's
public information set’
Professionalism: Context, Challenges, Opportunities
 More qualifications - and curriculum change throughout the UK
 More routes in to HE - articulation, vocational progression
 More flexible HE provision - part-time, HE in FE, on-line, blended and
Work Based learning. Wolf review.
 More public information about HE for potential students, transparency
 More widening participation/ fair access HE working with schools and
 More applications and more selection - support from SPA share good
 More on social mobility and fair access to the professions
Professionalism - What is Fair Admissions & Recruitment?
 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, encouraging, supporting and advising all students
with potential to aim higher for an HE course that is right for them at a
institution that can provide what they need, when they need it - full-time,
part-time, flexible or distance learning etc
 Schwartz Report: “Equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of
background, to gain admission to a course suited to their ability
and aspirations.”
What is Fair Admissions?
Schwartz recommended 5 principles for fair admissions:
1. be transparent
2. enable institutions to select students who are able to complete the
course as judged by their achievements and their potential
3. strive to use assessment methods that are reliable and valid ◊
4. seek to minimise barriers to applicants
5. be professional in every respect and underpinned by appropriate
institutional structures and processes
Some of these maybe ‘hard’ quantifiable measures, while others rely on qualitative
judgements. In Schwartz both legal and lay opinion placed value on the use of
discretion and the assessment of applicants as individuals.
The changing profile of accepted applicants
1999 Accepts
(UK domiciled)
2009 Accepts
(UK domiciled)
A Level no BTEC
A Level & BTEC
BTEC no A Level
Other quals
Source: UCAS Statistics
Applicants and Acceptance rates
PCAS Applicants
PCAS Accepts
Acceptance rate excl. PCAS
Acceptance rate
Professionalism: Developments at UCAS
 Admissions Process Review (APR)- Rama Thirunamachandran,
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Keele University, leading this.
 Timescale: Just started in March until autumn 2011
 It will consider
 How UCAS can be flexible to meet the needs of full time and parttime providers
 The benefits of integrating the front end of the student loan
 Test the extent to which a post qualifications admissions (PQA)
system could deliver benefits as one of a number of options
 Then consult sector and applicants on options to decide what processes
best support fair and efficient admissions
Professionalism: Developments at UCAS
 University of Ulster has agreed to be visited by APR staff to discuss
admissions processes - information from Alan Scott.
 Qualifications Information Review – the UCAS Tariff is also under
 Structural changes within UCAS – new organisation design under new
Chief Executive Mary Curnock Cook.
 Paperless admissions – no paper copy forms to HEIs from UCAS after
2013 for 2014 entry
 SPA initiated provision by UCAS of contextual data for 2012 entry for
those who decide to take it
 New IT platform from 2014
Professionalism: Challenges for all HE providers
 Is there commitment by senior management at both a strategic and
practical management level to fair recruitment and admissions?
 Will this be maintained in the new environment?
 Are there more data and statistics available to inform recruitment and
admissions policy and practice? Are these monitored and acted on if its
not fair?
 Information - is it clear, accurate, timely, well presented and
 Are policies in place and used, are practices understood?
 Do admissions staff have opportunities for professional development?
 Is smarter, more integrated working a way forward - with internal
colleagues, external partners and other agencies?
Thank you
SPA staff welcome the opportunity to visit HE providers and
discuss issues with colleagues in HE
[email protected] or 01242 544891

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