Contextualised admissions in the competitive environment

Report
Contextualised admissions
in the competitive environment
Applicant Experience in Wales SPA event - 4 June 2014
Janet Graham, Director of SPA
External policy drivers impacting admissions
1
 New competitive market place - looking for efficiencies and new USPs
for quality of offering and service, while enhancing access for
disadvantaged students and ensuring fair admissions
 Increasing competition between HEIs, and with HE in FE and new
independent providers, UK plc: global competition, league tables
 Changes and developments to the Pre-HE curriculum - GCSEs, A/AS
level reform, Welsh Bac - other changes round the UK
 QAA UK Quality Code - Chapter B2 covers admission
External policy drivers impacting admissions
2
 UCAS changes - to admissions process and UCAS Tariff
 Issues round advice and guidance for potential students
 Student number controls deregulation in England - impact UK wide
 Tuition fees and student finance - policy varies round UK
 Push for fair access and widening access
 Demographics - Fewer young applicants until 2020
 HE providers recruit UK-wide, changing patterns of behaviour by HE
Institutional Challenges in Admissions
 Meeting targets for both student numbers and under-represented groups
– getting the right balance
 Good record keeping, IT systems for admissions data analysis and
market intelligence
 Managing change - planning, admissions and student recruitment
working together
 Implementing policy -Tracking and Evaluating: in-house, UCAS Strobe
 Quality of the applicant and student experience including pre-entry
engagement, information and guidance and learning support
 Promotion of academic success - access, transition, retention,
employability
Fair admissions 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.
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.
SPAs Report:
http://www.spa.ac.uk/information/contextualdata/
spasworkoncontextual/cdresearch2013/
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.”
Contextualised admissions and holistic assessment
Fair admissions 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.
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 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)
‘F’ – flagging; ‘T’ – triangulation; ‘‘A’ – adjusting scores (i.e. calculating adjusted
grades to reflect relative performance as well as using actual grades).
‘I’ –highly likely or guaranteed interview; GO –guaranteed offer;
AO/MO–adjusted offer on individual basis/ modified offer - at lower end of range
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)
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Contextual data for HEPs, free, via UCAS for 2014
Educational Background
Socio-Economic Background
 School performance: % of students  % of students entitled to free school
meals by School (historical data only by
achieving 5+ GCSEs A*-C
Local Authority)
including English and Maths (or
equivalent in Scotland)
 % of students entitled to EMA (not
 Average point score by school “best England)
8” GCSEs (or Standard grade
 Lives in a low progression to higher
SCQF level 4 equivalent Basket of Data
education neighbourhood (POLAR 2
performance)
and POLAR 3) derived from postcode
 mean QCA points per A level and
 SIMD Scottish Index of Multiple
per student (or equivalent in
Deprivation (SFC version)
Scotland)
Supplied by UCAS, if universities and
colleges sign up to take it.
Useful practices
 Using multiple datasets
 Dealing with missing data (N.B. standardisation)
 Using multiple indicators

Triangulation
 Checking information - particularly self declared, e.g. follow up ‘incare’
 Using ranked data for decision making
 Using additional information for marginal decisions
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 and pro-active support
 Good record keeping

Linked systems for widening participation, admission,
planning, student progression, graduation and beyond –
student lifecycle

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/WP 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
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
Thank you
Janet Graham, Director of SPA
Tel 01242 544919 email: [email protected]
www.spa.ac.uk

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