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Contextual data: What is it and how can it be used in admissions and widening inclusion? SPA Seminar in Northern Ireland – 12 April 2011 Janet Graham,

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Presentation on theme: "Contextual data: What is it and how can it be used in admissions and widening inclusion? SPA Seminar in Northern Ireland – 12 April 2011 Janet Graham,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Contextual data: What is it and how can it be used in admissions and widening inclusion? SPA Seminar in Northern Ireland – 12 April 2011 Janet Graham, Director SPA

2 What have we been doing?  SPA is a free, impartial, central shared source of expertise and advice on strategy and policy on admissions and student recruitment issues  SPA Good practice statements and check lists - see  SPA worked with all UK administrations to get agreement on initial range of publicly sourced contextual data items, to be delivered free, via UCAS  Further data needs to be sourced and agreed by UCAS.  Now working on a research project, contextual data survey then work with a number of HEIs using contextual data case to look at methodology and added value

3 What is Fair Admissions and Access?  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 and encouraging and supporting 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.”

4 What is Fair Admissions? Schwartz recommended 5 principles for fair admissions: 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 ◊ to minimise barriers to applicants 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.

5 Regional Strategy for WP  Consultation issued by DEL in March, respond by 3 June.  Discusses the use of contextual data under WP targets and under enhancing recruitment and selection, wider use than ‘just’ admissions, how can contextual data be used in Northern Ireland?  Part of holistic assessment of the individual for fair admissions; a good applicant experience - from aspiration raising to transition - backed up by contextual data, supports the applicant and aids retention.  HE providers need good IT systems and data collection including data collected by HEI at registration/enrolment confirming the students background. More likely to give it when at HEI.  Good data and records needed for good monitoring and evaluation, and for reporting (Access Agreements, WP Strategic Assessments etc)

6 What is contextual data?  For full-time UG: data that maybe part of, or additional to, that on UCAS application that sets the application in its educational and/or socio- economic context  Can be self declared e.g. illness, looks after others, in care, disability  Other contextual data: interviews, auditions, portfolio, admissions tests  Increasingly from verified publicly available data sources - educational and socio-economic e.g. DEL, DE, CCEA, HESA etc  More to do: progression to HE stats, more qualifications and part-time/ mature, but its a good start.  See also UCAS:

7 Basket of Data Educational Background  School performance – Average (mean) school GCSE performance for 5 A*-C GCSE (including English/Welsh Maths)  Average (mean) school “best eight” GCSE performance  Average (mean) of QCA points per A level entry or equivalent  Average (mean) of QCA points per A level student or equivalent Socio-Economic Background  Percentage of students entitled to free school meals (by local authority)  Percentage of students entitled to an Educational Maintenance Allowance and percentage of students registered for an EMA (for one year only in England)  Lives in a low progression to higher education neighbourhood (POLAR2) All being supplied by UCAS for 2012 at time of application, if universities and colleges sign up to take it. This is work in progress. Initial basket of data for HEIs, free, via UCAS

8 Contextual data – How can HEIs use it?  Data, including ‘contextual data’ underpins successful policy, targeting, planning, marketing, widening access, admissions decision-making and monitoring  Contextual data information on the SPA website  SPA took up the request from HEIs for contextual data, SPA talked to the different administrations to agree data they could make available, then talked to UCAS about delivery.  Data will be available, via UCAS, for 2012 entry. It will be linked to applicants (inc. data for multiple schools if applicant went to more than one) and available as generic data sets  How can SPA help you? What data do you want? Sharing experience.

9 How is contextual data used?  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 enable the “best students” to be admitted and retained (as defined by the HEI)  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 for financial support at HEI  for statistical and qualitative monitoring and reporting purposes.

10 Principles of using contextual data developed by SPA 1.The use of contextual data within admissions decision making/ a course’s entry criteria must be:  research based and justifiable to ensure the use of data adds value  relevant to the purpose for which it is being use  valid and reliable  used to improve inclusivity, by recognising disadvantage using evidence based judgement  transparent to applicants and their advisors in terms of what contextual data is used, if any, how it will be used and when it is used.

11 Principles of using contextual data developed by SPA2 2.Regular monitoring of the use of the data and related audit trails should be integral to the admissions process. 3.Admissions staff using contextual data in decision making should be aware of the issues. Need good internal communications, professional development and training. 4.Applicants needing additional learner support or practical advice should receive appropriate transition and in-session learner support to ensure their potential continues to be developed. 5.Individual institutions are autonomous in the use of data and how it is used within their admissions decision-making process.

12 Example of contextual data use: University of Manchester  The central Admissions Office collates contextual information for its staff for a full and rounded view of applicant achievement and potential.  Publicly available datasets from government and other agencies are used.  Used for UK applicants under the age of 21 only.  It is simply additional information provided to admissions decision makers alongside applicants’ UCAS forms.  No decisions will be made on the basis of this information alone and all undergraduate applicants must meet their standard academic criteria to be considered for entry. s/#contextual/

13 Use of contextual data: University of Manchester What is used (where available)  The educational context of the applicant's school or college where they undertook GCSE or equivalent level through performance data;  The performance of the applicant's school or college at A-level or equivalent level; In both instances the applicant will be flagged if their educational establishment performs below the national average across multiple years;  The postcode that an applicant gives as their home address, assessed using ACORN information. Where an applicant's postcode falls into an ACORN group underrepresented in leading research-intensive universities, they will be flagged;  Whether an applicant has been looked after/in care for more than three months - this is determined from the UCAS application;

14 Use of contextual data: University of Manchester  A combination of the factors is used to avoid over-reliance on any one indicator.  An overall flag is only produced if an applicant meets at least one of the educational indicators plus the geo-demographic indicator.  They also receive an overall flag if they have been in care for more than 3 months.  Where applicants are predicted to achieve their standard academic entry criteria, contextual data is considered alongside information in the UCAS application to provide a fuller picture of the applicant.  Where applicants with an overall flag meet standard academic entry criteria, they are recommended for further consideration by admissions tutors

15 Use of contextual data: University of Manchester Further consideration does not result in either an automatic offer or a lower offer but can include:  Additional examination of the personal statement;  Making available information about an applicant's background to interviewers;  Further consideration during confirmation of final results. For more information see Manchester website for PDFs:  Principles and Processes of Contextual Data Principles and Processes of Contextual Data  The Role of the Contextual Data Flag in Admissions Decision-Making Processes The Role of the Contextual Data Flag in Admissions Decision-Making Processes  Educational Indicators (A list of schools and contextual flags) Educational Indicators  Methodology Behind the Contextual Indicators Methodology Behind the Contextual Indicators Anyone can look up the contextual flags by postcode using Manchester’s geo- demographic indicator.geo- demographic indicator

16 Example of contextual data use: University of Edinburgh Contextual factors may include:  School performance data: schools with low progression to HE rates or where the level of performance in examinations is below average  those whose parents or guardians have not previously attended university (must complete on UCAS application)  applicants who have participated on a recognised access programme  UK-wide, state and independent, schools and colleges  Use 3 years’ of publicly-available, government data, updated annually Enables identification of applicants from lowest performing schools admissions/selection/select

17 Progress and Issues  Research being undertaken at many universities - both operational and academic - needs to be brought together for peer review and discussion  Need to know and demonstrate that contextual data adds value for institution  Academic research conference, Fair Admissions, 7/8 July 2011 in Manchester supported by SPA and UUK,  Details of research in the public domain to go on SPA website,  SPA research project to look at methodologies and see and assess what is transferable within the sector.

18 Use of contextual data: Workshop In two groups discuss some of the issues at your institution, and those of others in your group, regarding contextual data: 1.How many of you use contextual data? If you do, what for?  If you use it for decision-making would it be to make reduced offers or to ensure the applicant is considered to get an offer rather than a reject? 2.If you don’t, what do you think you might use it for?  How do you ensure fairness?  What analysis/ research do you need to do in-house?  What IT/record systems do you need in place  What are the barriers to using contextual data?  What are the incentives/benefits? 3.What can SPA do to help?

19 Thank you More information from: Tel 01242

20 Use of contextual data: University of Bristol  Actual and/or predicted performance in public examinations is a key indicator of academic potential for degree-level study.  Educational context: quantifiable evidence of educational disadvantage or more generic evidence drawn from the applicant's personal statement or reference.  Educational disadvantage: attendance at a school or college where, in the previous year it was ranked in the bottom 40 per cent of all schools and colleges in relation to the average score per ‘A’ Level entry, the average score per ‘A’ Level entrant or the percentage of students applying to HE. This is reviewed annually.  Applicants from low performing schools/ colleges may be given a lower offer, consideration is on an individual basis.

21 Use of contextual data: University of Bristol  2004 established Widening Participation Research Cluster (WPRC) led by Dr Tony Hoare to undertake WP research pertinent to University’s own circumstances  Overseen by the Head of WP and the Director of Student Recruitment, Access and Admissions, supported by a research budget from the additional fee income from the University's Access Agreement. Research includes:  The evidence for educational disadvantage: the possible differences between applicants' paper qualifications and degree potential - attainment at the end of Year 13 (at A-level) may misrepresent degree potential in certain WP groups.  Now look at any similar evidence about GCSE profiles and how this can this also be factored into decisions of Admission Tutors. 

22 Use of contextual data: Durham University Multiple factors are taken into account to identify the most able applicants by academic staff who are experts in their field and who teach their subject: 1.A-Level (or equivalent) grades; 2.GCSE (or equivalent) grades; 3.the personal statement; 4.the reference; 5.the development of study skills; 6.motivation for the degree programme applied for; 7.independence of thought and working; 8.skills derived from non-academic extra-curricular activities such as engagement in sport, the arts or voluntary and community work; and 9.contextual consideration of merit and potential

23 Use of contextual data: Durham University In addition to the contextual information provided via UCAS i.e. educational journey since age 11, an indicator of time in care, and contextual information in the personal statement and reference, the University also uses the following:  if an applicant is from a neighbourhood where progression to HE is low;  if an applicant has participated in a significant outreach activity organised by the University e.g. a Summer School; and  an indicator of whether the average school performance where the applicant took their GCSEs is above or below the national average. All information will be presented in a similar format and no individual piece of the contextual information will be more important than any other. Durham does not make lower offers on the basis of this contextual or any other information and this will continue to be the case.

24 Use of contextual data: Other links  University of Oxford: ual_data.html ual_data.html  University of Cambridge: see section 2.6.4 Assessment of GCSE scores

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