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Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice: the view from SPA Professionalising Admissions HE in FE Conference 2 March 2010 Missenden Abbey Janet.

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Presentation on theme: "Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice: the view from SPA Professionalising Admissions HE in FE Conference 2 March 2010 Missenden Abbey Janet."— Presentation transcript:

1 Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice: the view from SPA Professionalising Admissions HE in FE Conference 2 March 2010 Missenden Abbey Janet Graham, Director of SPA

2 What is SPA?  SPA is the Supporting Professionalism in Admissions Programme established in 2006  UK-wide centre of expertise on admission to HE programmes  Directly funded by all the UK HE funding bodies  Independent – reporting to the SPA Steering Group  A central source of expertise and advice on a wide range of admissions issues, including Good Practice Statements (Interviews, Criminal Convictions issues, feedback to applicants, etc.).  A resource for individual institutions who wish to enhance excellence in admissions, recruitment and widening inclusion

3 Current issues in Policy and Practice: Fair access  Be transparent, and provide consistent and efficient information  Admit students who are able to complete the course as judged by their achievements and potential  Use assessment methods in admissions that are reliable and valid  Minimise barriers to applicants  Be professional in every respect and underpinned by institutional structures and processes. “Equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of background, to gain admission to a course suited to their ability and aspirations.” Source: Schwartz Report on Fair Admissions 2004

4 SPA – what we’re doing  Good practice - collecting evidence, review and analysis, sharing through :  Visits to institutions offering HE (120+ visited since June 2006, representing nearly 90% of UCAS applications)  Meeting senior managers, stakeholders, speaking at conferences, forums and working groups  Current objectives include:  The use of contextual data in admissions to higher education  The applicant experience strategy within an institution  Admissions tests – how many, who’s using them and why?  Vocational qualifications for progression to HE  Part-time student admissions issues

5 SPA and HE in Further Education – how can we help?  An Association of Colleges representative is a member of the SPA Steering Group  Some HE in FE questions that SPA could help with include:  What are the key issues for HE admissions in FE institutions?  How can the relationship between FE colleges and partner institutions be enhanced in admissions and student recruitment?  How involved are FE colleges with national developments on feedback, Entry Profiles and transparent entry criteria, offer making, legal issues in admissions, etc.?  Who to talk to in FE institutions about HE admissions issues – how does SPA reach them?

6 Current issues in Admissions Policy and Practice  Many reports and initiatives relating to social mobility, lifelong learning and progression to HE  Highlight issues that are likely to impact on admissions to HE, many are already in progress  SPA’s agenda, working in partnership with universities, colleges, and other stakeholders has two core themes: 1. Contextual data use in widening participation and admissions, and 2. Applicant Experience Strategy– ‘joined-up-ness’ of strategy, policy, process, IT support, staff etc to provide a good, professional service within an institution

7 Good practice in a changing environment  Expectation of increasing professionalism within all aspects of HE: managers, professional support staff and tutors - need to maintain a quality service and enhance excellence  Government, media, schools and colleges, parents and others want to know and be assured admissions are fair  Increasing pressures on staff working with partners, in admissions, student recruitment, widening inclusion, student services etc  Conflicting priorities and complex issues: policy and strategy initiatives, curriculum developments, quality matters, institutional priorities …  Recession impact – funding/ student demand/ economics/ politics

8 Further extinction? 18 February 2010 The growth of higher education delivered within further education colleges was a rational move by universities. Local colleges could provide potential growth without the need for significant capital investment in university estates - risky when catering for students with less proven academic ability. Such growth also had the advantage of supporting these students with further education-trained teachers and smaller group sizes. Now that the academy is about to shrink, it will be interesting to see what will happen to higher education in further education. When faced with cuts, downsizing and redundancies, why would universities franchise their remaining student places? There is only one answer. Are we facing the extinction of much-vaunted widening participation efforts via further education? John Curry, City of Bath College.

9 Caveat opportunists 25 February 2010 John Curry poses an interesting question about the future of higher education in further education (THE Letters, 18 February). Undoubtedly, some universities will question the future of such partnerships, but I suspect that where they have been founded on strong, local and strategic foundations, they will endure. Where there have been opportunistic, solely funding-focused or long-distance partnerships, there may be trouble. Caveat emptor to institutions that entered into relationships for other than strategically focused reasons. Ian Tunbridge OBE, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External), Thames Valley University.

10 Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice Institutional strategy and mission In England – OFFA and HEFCE Widening Participation Strategic Assessments required from HE providers, how is WP becoming a core activity integrated within the institutions mission and long term strategy? The WP Strategic Assessments guidance from HEFCE highlighted that as part of a strategic assessment fair access, admissions should be carefully contextualised as part of a larger process of institutional openness and outreach. FE Colleges with 100+ FTEs to action early 2010 Similar types of strategies or assessments likely in Wales and Northern Ireland to review widening access

11 Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice The National Council for Educational Excellence (NCEE) recommendation 6 - how to identify the ‘best’ students with the potential and ability to reach the highest academic achievement. SPA has, and will, input on contextual data National Student Forum – student views on information, advice and guidance for progression to HE. Government response to NSF 2009 annual report out last week NUS Student Experience – provides a good feedback on what students thought of HE including the applicant experience HEFCE funded research to find out what information potential students want, so that students understanding what to expect of their student experience. Stems from recommendations of the NSF and others. Working with QAA.

12 Current issues in admissions – Higher Ambitions Higher Ambitions: The future of universities in a knowledge economy launched by Lord Mandelson on 3 November a framework for Higher Education over the next ten or more years. Need to continue to widen access and sustain and improve standards of HE excellence in an increasingly pressured international context and constrained public spending, need to continue drive up excellence in this environment HE equips people with skills needed in global economy that a knowledge economy demands, it gives access to the best jobs, everyone, irrespective of background, has a right to a fair chance to gain those advantages Vital for social justice, social mobility and for meeting the economy’s need for high level skills

13 Higher Ambitions: Key areas for admissions Strong themes of social mobility and fair access Progress made but more work required, not just HE but ‘supported by all those with a role to play’ – schools and colleges Framework recognises extent of existing partnerships between schools, colleges and HE, HE to build on these Improved Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) and encouragement for students earlier in their education Encourage HE providers to develop new ways of using contextual data in admissions and hope all universities and colleges will consider it

14 Higher Ambitions: Key areas for admissions All HE providers publish a ‘standard set of information setting out what students can expect in terms of the nature and quality of their programmes’ - more than Entry Profiles; link to other information already available? Programme specifications? New routes to access HE especially for those from wider range of qualification backgrounds including vocational qualification and mature students New types of HE programmes particularly ‘high value’ part-time and work based courses, with broader range of learning models Role of HE in FE

15 Unleashing Aspirations - Government response  The Government response to Alan Milburn’s report on Fair Access to the Professions, Unleashing Aspirations was published on 18 January 2010.Unleashing Aspirations  The response accepted many of the recommendations and highlighted the Government’s commitment to improving access to the professions and widening participation in higher education and new opportunities.  A number of the recommendations impact on admissions and widening participation including Recommendation 41 which encourages all HEIs to take into account educational and social context of applicants achievement in their admissions process.  The Government will look to SPA to share and disseminate good practice in this area.

16 Contextual data use within admissions  for widening participation – to target aspiration raising and WP and fair access activities  to inform the decision as to who to interview  to inform admissions decision making  to identify applicants who may need additional learner support or practical advice during their application process, transition or when registered as a student  to help assess applicants eligible for bursaries or other financial support  for statistical and qualitative monitoring and reporting purposes

17 Contextual data use within admissions  SPA working with institutions to establish what data they would like – ‘basket of data’ from publicly available data sets from across the UK  Hard data: on students educational background. Soft data: socio- economic such free school meals, EMA etc  How to get the data to institutions? Possibly via UCAS – initial discussions positive and/or via MIAP Managing Information Across Partners - an IT enabled, data centric set of services built on the principle of collect once, use many times and used by all that are entitled to do so. It plans to streamline the collection, handling and sharing of information on learning and achievement between individual learners and education and training organisations. JISC-MIAP-UCAS pilot project with HE

18 Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice  Institutions will need to show/ know they have robust systems in  Quality enhancement and assurance in the publication of entry criteria and admissions procedures  IT systems that can support the work of institutions throughout the whole applicant experience: from WP and aspiration raising, through application, post-application, transition and as students; move to ‘paperless’ admissions and qualifications results issue  IT systems and staff for data analysis of institutional data, WP data, contextual data and sharing, MIAP and the ULN, tracking, reporting and monitoring  Training and CPD – staff to be up to date with changes in policy and the institutions practices in response to these

19 Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice  Immediate issues: 2010 entry – more applicants to HE courses than ever before, as demonstrated in the UCAS statistics  Creates immediate issues for those institutions experiencing a larger volume of applications than previously:  Management of planning and target setting, this may only be a 2-3 year increase  Complexity - balancing increased numbers with places available, entry criteria and offers, how many offers to make? Will conversion/take up be higher? What about CIs? Monitoring and tracking. Feedback  Staffing and resources to cope with number of applications and maintain quality and fairness – skilled staff take time to train  SPA happy to talk with institutions about issues and good practice

20 What next?  The HE Framework - what if government changes at the election?  Panel on Fair Access to the Professions will continue  Equalities Bill  Impact of curriculum developments  International students - UKBA issues etc  Diversity of devolution in UK – similar issues, different approaches  Browne Review of tuition fees at English institutions  Evaluation of SPA  FE-HE Partnerships, flexible learning and….

21 Thank you, any questions or comments? More information from: or


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