Presentation on theme: "The strategic view – how can contextualised admissions work in the new competitive environment and what does the SPA research tell us? Janet Graham and."— Presentation transcript:
The strategic view – how can contextualised admissions work in the new competitive environment and what does the SPA research tell us? Janet Graham and Peter Chetwynd, SPA
What is SPA and why did we commission this research? SPA’s mission and role SPA promotes fair admissions and access to higher education in the UK by developing and leading on good practice in the recruitment and selection of students. SPA is an independent and objective Programme, funded by HEFCE, DELNI, SFC, UCAS and Universities UK We evaluate and commission research enabling us to develop evidence based good practice Interest in using contextual data in HE providers is growing, as highlighted in the SPA survey on contextual data use, February 2013SPA survey on contextual data use
“Equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of background, to gain admission to a course suited to their ability and aspirations.” What is Fair Admissions? 1. be 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 4. seek to minimise barriers to applicants 5. be professional in every respect and underpinned by appropriate institutional structures and processes
Fair admissions and fair access: what’s 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 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 an institution that can provide what they need, when they need it - full-time, part-time, flexible or distance learning etc
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.
Contextualised admissions and holistic assessment
Basket of Data Educational Background School performance: % of students achieving 5+ Standard grade SCQF level 4 including English and Maths (or equivalent A*-C GCSE) Average point score by school “best 8” Standard grade SCQF level 4 (or equivalent for GCSE. Not available NI) Scottish Highers average point score per Higher entry and points for Highers per student (or equivalent for A level. Not available NI) Socio-Economic Background % of students registered for free school meals by School (historical data only by Local Authority) % of students entitled to EMA (not England) Lives in a low progression to higher education neighbourhood (POLAR 2 and POLAR 3) derived from postcode SIMD Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SFC version) Supplied free by UCAS, if universities and colleges sign up to take it. Initial basket of data for HEIs, via UCAS, for 2014 entry
Why use contextualised admissions? Universities UK “Student recruitment would be relatively straightforward if we had a level playing field, with all young people, wherever they lived, whatever their parental background, and the type of school they attended, having an equal chance of attaining the highest grades of which they were capable and progressing on to university.” Unfortunately this is not the case.
External policy drivers impacting admissions
Increasing divergence in the HE policy frameworks round the UK: Changes and developments to the Pre-HE curriculum Issues round advice and guidance for potential students Student number controls - policy varies round UK Tuition fees and student finance – policy varies round UK But HE providers recruit UK-wide, changing patterns of behaviour Demographics - Fewer young applicants until 2020
Strategy 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.
Strategy 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.
Strategic importance of contextualised admissions: Facilitates reaching targets Improves calibre of entrants through identifying potential Widens participation and enhances diversity of the student body Supports the applicant experience Could aid social mobility Helps delivery of fair admissions Helps assess applicants for financial support Helps identify applicants who may benefit from additional support
SPA Research: What is contextualised admissions? Contextual Data from data fields in applications, or data linked to application data field. can include data provided from public sources via UCAS or from commercial or other sources (government departments/ agencies). flagging or coding is often employed by universities and colleges. Contextual Information gained through assessment of information about applicant circumstances e.g. from o personal statement o reference o additional questionnaire o local knowledge of schools and colleges not new but can be ad-hoc
“ There is a degree of fairness and transparency… and at least we are being consistent. It’s better than stereotypical decision making by an individual member of an admissions team.” Contextual data provide an opportunity for systematic and transparent use of additional applicant information
How did the researchers examine the evidence for contextual data in admissions? Undergraduate admissions To what extent is evidence available? How is evidence used? Stakeholder interviews Desk Research Scoping Survey Institutional visits Selection of institutions Telephone interviews
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.”
What is the Challenge? Social Class Gender Ethnicity Admission School/college grades School Area Merit Origin Destination
Scientific ‘Gold standard’: good, individual-level data Caveats: Data availability Expertise and cost Limitations (often young, UK domiciled HE applicants) Outreach or / and admissions Area School Household Individual Evidence 1: What matters for measuring academic potential?
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 other 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 Case study providers Methodology: Application of data FFTA FFFAF Approach: Implications (beyond additional consideration) AOI AO (some) GO/IAOMO ‘Formal’ application of contextual data into holistic decision making
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)
Useful practices Using multiple datasets Checking information Using ranked data Using additional information for marginal decisions Dealing with missing data
Recommendations Rationale and understanding Conceptual clarity Sharing expertise, good practice and networking Communication Data and indicators Centralised data provision Data transfer Research Long term comparative research Other admissions Different provider contexts
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 Good record keeping Linked systems for widening participation, admission, student progression, graduation and beyond 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 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 evidence- base
Janet Graham and Peter Chetwynd More information from SPA or Any questions?