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SPA Janet Graham, Director, Supporting Professionalism in Admissions


  • 1. SPA and fair HE Admissions in the new competitive environment Access to HE summit 3 December 2013Janet Graham, Director of SPA

2. What is SPA? Set up in 2006 following the Schwartz Report Fair Admissions to Higher Education: Recommendations for Good Practice 2004 The Group recommends the creation of a central source of expertise and advice on admissions issues. Its purpose would be to act as a resource for institutions who wish to maintain and enhance excellence in admissions. Such a centre could lead the continuing development of fair admissions, evaluating and commissioning research, and spreading best practice. UKs independent, fully funded (normally free at the point of delivery) and objective voice on fair HE admissionsSmall team, but with practical and relevant experience 3. What is Fair Admissions? 1. be transparent 2. enable institutions to select students who are able tocomplete the course as judged by their achievements and Equalpotential their opportunity for allindividuals, assessment methods that are reliable and 3. strive to use regardless of valid background, to gain 4. seek to minimise course admission to a barriers to applicants 5. be professional in every respect and underpinned by suited to their ability structures and processes and appropriate institutional aspirations. 4. Fair admissions and fair access: whats 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 thats 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 5. External policy drivers impacting admissions 6. External policy drivers impacting admissions Increasing divergence in the HE policy frameworks round the UK but HE providers recruit UK-wide 7. External policy drivers impacting admissions Changes and developments to the Pre-HE curriculum Issues round advice and guidance for potential students Tuition fees and student finance policy varies round UK Demographics - Fewer young applicants until 2020 8. Fair admissions in a competitive landscapeCompetition between HE providers is growing.There is an increasing need to seek out students with potential from a wider range of backgrounds. 9. What is contextualised admissions?Contextualised admissions is defined as contextual information and contextual data used by HE providers to assess an applicants prior attainment and potential to succeed in higher education in the context of the circumstances in which their attainment has been obtained. 10. 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 its obvious when students come to study with us that the brightest sparks do not always come with the best grades. 11. Contextualised admissions and holistic assessment 12. 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 highacademic standards. It is about seeking excellence by identifying the best applicants with thegreatest potential and likelihood of a successful degree outcome. 13. Strategic importance of contextualised admissions: Facilitates reaching targetsHelps identify applicants who may benefit from additional supportImproves calibre of entrants through identifying potential Helps delivery of fair admissionsSupports the applicant experience Widens participation and enhances diversity of the student bodyHelps assess applicants for financial supportCould aid social mobility 14. 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 15. Evidence 2: Same gradessame 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. 16. Recommendations for HE admissions Rationale and understanding Conceptual clarity from SPASharing expertise, good practice and networkingCommunicationData and indicators Centralised data provisionData transferResearch Long term comparative researchOther admissionsDifferent provider contexts 17. Initial basket of data for HEIs, free, via UCAS for 2014 Educational Background School performance: % of students achieving 5+ GCSEs A*-C including English and Maths (or equivalent in Scotland)Socio-Economic Background % of students entitled to 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 GCSEs (or Standard grade SCQF Basket of Lives in a low progression to higher Data level 4 equivalent performance) education neighbourhood (POLAR 2 mean QCA points per A level and per and 3) derived from postcode student (or equivalent in Scotland) SIMD Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SFC version) Supplied by UCAS, if universities and colleges sign up to take it. 18. SPA College HE Community of Practice Group Building an evidence base of current practice seeking out existing good practice; Assessing practices and procedures in HE admissions and adapting SPAs existing good practice if appropriate and/or developing new practice for FE College use; Raising awareness of the Groups work with FE Colleges offering HE in their regions; Disseminating relevant information to FE Colleges offering HE in their regions; Promoting the professionalism of admissions with FE Colleges offering HE in their regions and with the wider College HE admissions community. 19. Part-time admissions fair admissions and good practice Review Thomas report and implications for SPAs work Input to sector bodies and other stakeholder groups with regard to PT admissions Build mailing/contact list of PT admissions practitioners within HE providers, with potential to develop into community of practice Update SPAs Good Practice Statement and Checklist on PT admissions Produce guidelines on PT admissions e.g. data to be collected and rationale for doing so 20. The applicant experience Built under four broad stages, as part of student journey a behavioural view of experience Interactive participation and engagement, not a passive journeyLinked and underpinned through effective information,advicesingandguidancetransition 21. The applicant good applicant experienceA poor applicant experienceis mutually beneficial to both the is mutually beneficial to applicant and the higher education provider both the applicant and the prepares, informs provider prepares, informs and provides higher education and equality of equality to provides opportunityof enter higher accurately match shouldeducation enter higher opportunity to the students aims, the should accurately match education thereforeaims, aspirations students improves and abilities and abilities student aspirations andthe character with enhances retentioncharacter of theof the with the institution the strategic mission of the institution therefore improves student retention institution the strategic mission and enhances of the institutionis inherently detrimental to both the is inherently detrimental to applicant and the higher education both the both lose out the provider applicant and entry perpetuates barriers to higher educationto entry perpetuates barriers provider disengages potential both lose out disengages potential applicants and applicants and their advisors their advisors risks incongruence between risks incongruence between student student expectations and therefore embeds an character expectations and institutional institutional character therefore embeds an enrolment strategy enrolment strategy leading to leading to unfulfilled potential unfulfilled potential and and increased drop-out increased drop-out 22. Building an applicant experience strategy institution mission and valuesmonitorpre-application stage processespoliciesapplication stage processespost-application stage processestransition stage processeskey interactionslinking interactionskey interactionslinking interactionskey interactionslinking interactionskey interactionsIPG integratedIPG integratedIPG integratedIPG integratedIPG integratedIPG integratedIPG integratedpractitioner groups / communitiespractitioner groups / communitiespractitioner groups / communitiespractitioner groups / communitiespractitioner groups / communitiespractitioner groups / communitiespractitioner groups / communitiesenablers (staff; systems; funds)measurestrategic aims 23. The Applicant Experience Strategy Strategic leadership in admissions is integral to an institutions learning and teaching strategy, management and planning. SPAs view is that an applicant experience strategy underpins the student experience, it supports the management and processes of both academic and professional staff. The benefits for the institution should be more in