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Admissions Policy and HE Strategy Professionalising Admission to Higher Education in Further Education Conference Tuesday 2 March 2010 Annie Doyle, Senior.

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Presentation on theme: "Admissions Policy and HE Strategy Professionalising Admission to Higher Education in Further Education Conference Tuesday 2 March 2010 Annie Doyle, Senior."— Presentation transcript:

1 Admissions Policy and HE Strategy Professionalising Admission to Higher Education in Further Education Conference Tuesday 2 March 2010 Annie Doyle, Senior Project Officer, SPA

2 Format of the session  Brief introduction to SPA  Some current issues in admissions policy and practice – why should you be thinking about these issues?  Consideration of how these issues affect you in your position at your institution  What is being done to help and support institutions offering HE?  Your thoughts - is there anything else you think you need to help and support you with these issues?  Closing remarks and any final questions

3 What is SPA?  Established in 2006  A central source of expertise and advice on admissions issues  A resource for institutions who wish to maintain and enhance excellence in admissions  Leads the continuing development of fair admissions, evaluates and commissions research, and spreads best practice  UK’s independent and objective voice on HE admissions  The SPA Steering Group oversees the Programme and reports go to all the UK HE funding bodies

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7 Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice  2009: several reports published and actions initiated relating to social mobility, lifelong learning and progression to HE  Issues that are likely to impact on admissions to HE, many are already in progress by HE providers  SPA’s agenda, working in partnership with universities and colleges, has two core themes: 1. the use of contextual data in widening participation and admissions, and 2. the applicant experience – staff working in WP, application support and admissions, transition and progression into HE working together to provide a good service to applicants

8 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 institution’s mission and long term strategy?  The WP Strategic Assessments guidance from HEFCE highlighted that as part of a strategic assessment of fair access, admissions should be carefully contextualised as part of a larger process of institutional openness and outreach  Similar types of strategies or assessments likely in Wales and Northern Ireland to review widening access  Higher Education Strategies from Further Education Colleges

9 HE Strategy – purpose  Why produce an HE Strategy?  Opportunity to identify how HE fits into the overall strategic plan of the organisation  Assess and evaluate the college’s position in the HE market  Identify strengths and areas for improvement in setting the strategic direction of the college with regard to its HE offer  To underpin preparation for institutional review by the college’s validating HEI for the collaborative aspects of its own institutional audit, and for IQER  Review management and governance structures  Raise the profile of HE in the college

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11 Workshop task 1  In small groups or with your neighbour, consider how these issues affect you in your position at your organisation:  Social Mobility  Conflicting Priorities  IQER  Production of HE Strategy  Others

12 Good practice in a changing environment  Expectation of increasing professionalism within all aspects of admissions, centralised or devolved admissions, managers, professional support staff and academics  Government, media, schools and colleges, parents and others want to know and be assured admission to HE is a fair system  Increasing pressures on admissions, student recruitment and widening inclusion staff  Conflicting priorities and complex issues: policy initiatives, curriculum developments, institutional priorities …  Economic climate – reduced funding/ resources  Need to maintain a quality service and enhance excellence

13 Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice  For many of these developments institutions will need to show/ know they have robust systems in  quality enhancement and assurance in 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,  data analysis of institutional data, WP data, tracking, reporting and monitoring  training and CPD – staff to be up to date with changes in policy, qualifications curriculum changes and the institution’s response to these

14 Admissions Policies - Good practice and transparency  “We have to look for … measures that will reassure the public… based on the fundamental principle that universities decide whom they should admit. The answer lies… in openness, transparency and accountability. It lies in each university having a published admissions policy; being able to show that it has measures in hand to equip all those involved in admissions to implement the policy accurately and fairly; and in each university being able to assure itself that this is being done.”  January 2009 HEFCE and OFFA requested each HE provider institution in England to provide a Widening Participation Strategic Assessment, including a high level admissions statement linked to policies

15 WPSA - openness, transparency and accountability The HEFCE/OFFA document states they have been guided by the following rationale and principles:  That admissions criteria, policies and procedures remain an important aspect of academic freedom and, as such, are the responsibility of each individual institution.  At the same time, admissions have a role to play in WP, and transparency and standards are important for public confidence.  HEFCE expect institutions to publish their admissions polices and illustrate whether and how they contribute to their WP strategies.  The strategic assessment should indicate where further details about admissions can be found in publications and/or on the institution’s website.

16 WPSA - openness, transparency and accountability Admissions:  Within WP and fair access, admissions should be contextualised as part of a larger process of institutional openness and outreach.  Although admissions remain an important aspect of institutional autonomy and academic freedom, institutions should provide a high-level statement focusing on the principles of the institution’s admissions policy, providing assurance of consistency, professionalism, transparency and fairness through its own internal procedures.  As institutions develop their admissions polices (informed and guided by the work of SPA and the QAA Code of Practice on admissions), HEFCE would expect them to be published and appended to the WPSA.  Where policies are in development, institutions should inform HEFCE/OFFA of the expected time of completion and publication.

17 Good Practice: Admissions Policies  A high level statement should demonstrate how the policies support the achievement of the institution’s mission and strategic plans, how they inform the operational aims and show commitment to applicants.  Provide a source of good quality information and detail on all aspects of an institution’s admissions policy and procedures, be transparent and helpful to a variety of audiences but mainly to the applicant and their advisors, as well as to the institution’s own staff.  When reviewing admissions policies HE providers should note:  the QAA Code of Practice, Section 10, on admissions to higher education (Sept 2006) to ensure policies comply with its precepts  the SPA Admissions Policies Guidance, available at

18 Good Practice: Admissions Policies and Transparency  Background – Schwartz Report - Principle 1 stated: ‘A fair admissions system should be transparent’  Purpose of the admissions policy and connected legal and responsibility issues  Admissions Policy: Structure and audience; Language; Transparency, accessibility and dissemination  Admissions Policy - content, approval, responsibilities and monitoring  Includes: high level statement, strategic framework, policy approval, issues in considering applications (at institution, course and at both levels) and information for applicants  Support and training for admissions staff  Qualifications – institution policies

19 Workshop task 2 In small groups or with your neighbour:  List your top five policies that you would put on your website first for applicants to HE, and why?  What does your group think is the best way to keep admissions staff, both academic and administrative, in an institution up to date with changes to policies?  How should the use of the policy be monitored internally?

20 Changes within admissions – strategic and operational  Paperless admissions  Admissions structures  Partnerships with universities  FE to HE progression agreements

21 Paperless Admissions SPA overview of good practice issues and considerations  “...agreed that production of copy forms should be discontinued from September 2013, i.e year of entry...”  Opportunity in terms of good practice  Admissions records systems  Centralised admissions decision-making  Review and update admissions business processes  Case studies

22 Admissions strategy - structures  Admissions decision-making – centralised/devolved?  Admissions office – integrated with other functions e.g. Student Recruitment, Outreach?  Admissions team?  Staff carrying out a range of academic administration functions in addition to admissions?  Integrated service models  Service standards

23 Partnerships and progression agreements  Partnerships –  regular meetings, sharing of good practice, staff development, shared understanding of outcomes  Progression Agreements –  should represent equally the voices of further and higher education  how are progression agreements managed?  strategic management of numbers  effective use of information systems

24 Workshop task 3 In small groups or with your neighbour consider:  In your institution what do you think could be the barriers/challenges and the benefits of moving to a paperless system? (Examples relevant to your specific context)  Does the admissions structure at your institution help or hamper an effective admissions strategy?  How effective are any partnerships with universities? What would improve these partnerships?  How effective are any Progression Agreements? What would improve these Progression Agreements?

25 Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice  The National Council for Educational Excellence (NCEE) recommendation 6 - how HE providers can identify the ‘best’ students with the potential and ability to reach the highest academic achievement.  Realising Opportunities project - HEFCE funded project which is designed to raise students aspirations and to help the 13 universities to identify able students with potential, but who require additional motivation and support, both to apply to HE, and make a successful transition, as well developing mutual recognition for their compact or progression schemes  Sharing of what works/ methodology/ good practice UK wide

26 Current issues in admissions  The Alan Milburn report Unleashing Aspirations: The Final Report of the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions - July  Chapter 6 - Universities: new opportunities to pursue higher education – engines for social change.  Recommendation 41 stated ‘by law it is for universities to determine their admissions procedures but we hope that all universities will take into account the educational and social context of pupils’ achievement in their admissions process.’  Many of the recommendations and issues were taken up in the HE framework

27 Current Issues in Admissions Policy and Practice  National Student Forum – student views on information, advice and guidance for progression to HE, Government response to annual report 2009 published last week  NUS Student Experience – provides good feedback on what students thought of their HE experience including the applicant experience  In September 2009 David Lammy, Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, announced that HEFCE would be sponsoring research to find out just what information potential students want, so that they go to higher education understanding what to expect of their student experience. Stems from recommendations of the NSF and others.

28 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  HE equips people with skills needed in global economy that a knowledge economy demands

29 Higher Ambitions: Key areas for admissions  Framework broadly welcomed by the HE sector as positive and constructive - strong themes of social mobility and fair access  Progress made but more work required, not just HE providers but ‘supported by all those with a role to play’ – schools and colleges  Role of HE in FE  Framework recognises extent of existing partnerships between schools, colleges and HE providers  New routes to access HE especially for those from wider range of qualification backgrounds including vocational qualifications and mature students  New types of HE programmes particularly ‘high value’ part-time and work based courses, with broader range of learning models

30 What next?  The HE Framework is important for the HE sector, what will be its impact if there is a change of government this year?  Impact of curriculum developments  Diversity of devolution – similar issues but different approaches  Review of tuition fees at English institutions  Welsh Assembly Government’s response to the Jones Review of HE in Wales awaited  Debate around tuition fees in Scotland  Closing remarks and any final questions

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32 Thank you More information from: or


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