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Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report
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Admissions Policy Review Group Interim Report

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  • 1. CRAC 2007-08-10 Paper B Interim Report of the Admissions Policy Review Group Summary & Recommendations In September 2004, the University implemented a new undergraduate admissions policy for selection for entry to high demand subject areas in CHSS and CSE (defined as those receiving 8 or more applications per place) which aimed to take into account the educational and home/social context in which an applicant’s academic grades had been obtained, thereby more fairly reflecting student potential. It was agreed that a review of the policy should take place after three years. To begin this process, APRG was convened in spring 2006 with remit as in Appendix 1. The group considered a range of internal and external data and organised focus groups with representatives of secondary schools, existing students and admissions professionals. The Position with Review of Quantitative Data The work of the group was much hampered by incomplete and inconclusive quantitative data and by changes in the external environment which could account for substantial trends and mask any effects of the policy. For instance, in 2005, the UCAS data on socio-economic class showed a sharp rise in the number of students who withheld this data (from 12% to 20%) but the proportions declaring low socio-economic class remained stable. Similar increases have occurred in applications with unknown school type but proportions with declared school type remain stable between the state and independent sectors. This is partly due to the new online UCAS Apply system which records the centre from which the application is made, rather than the school previously attended. Work is currently being undertaken by UCAS to revert to school type data, including the 2006 cycle retrospectively, so better data is to be expected in due course. There is strong evidence from CHSS reports that the policy is significantly affecting the offer and intake profiles in relation to the application profiles. For example, in 2005, the lower band C-E schools accounted for 29.6% of applications but 43.3% of the intake. However, this is a snapshot1 taken at a time when there was a very large rise in applications from band A-B schools in England – a trend which itself could be related to the policy (e.g. the shift to minimum entry requirement of straight B’s) or to other factors in the external environment (tuition fee changes, etc). The HESA performance indicators show some convergence towards benchmarks for entrants from lower socio-economic classes, state schools and low participation neighbourhoods. For example the state school percentage differential reduced from 15% in 2001/2 to 11.7% in 2004/5, the last year for which data has been published. However, there is a lot of volatility in both the Edinburgh and benchmark figures and the last available data is only for the cycle during which the new policy was announced. With only truncated and/or perturbed time-series data and only hints of welcome trends in PIs, etc., the group felt it was premature to draw conclusions on the quantitative aspects of its remit. As illustrated above, there are reasons to expect more useful data to emerge and for this reason, the group is proposing that further work be undertaken to complete the review in, say, a year’s time. Key Issues There are, however, some significant issues with potentially serious implications for the University which emerged from qualitative aspects of the group’s remit. These are 1 Equivalent data for two preceding years is just becoming available through a data project run by MIS on behalf of CHSS. This data still requires to be validated and analysed. 1
  • 2. summarised below. Although the group’s recommendations are framed in terms of completing the quantitative work before making changes to the policy, there is a serious issue for RASC and the University to consider whether some aspects may merit earlier action. • The admissions policy for high demand subjects in CHSS and CSE appears to be poorly understood in secondary schools/colleges and among applicants, a situation made worse by the fact that it is not the only policy in place across the University. This complexity can lead to unfortunate interpretations and negative perceptions. However, it is important to stress that the policy for high demand subjects is the most controversial and, if not managed appropriately, poses the greatest risk to the University’s reputation. The group recommends much improved communications and transparency. Clear explanations of the University’s admissions principles, policies and procedures and their implications for applicants should be prominently available on the web and in the paper prospectus. In doing this, there are significant challenges in reconciling the situations of selecting and recruiting programmes. There is evidence that, in the absence of other guidance, the straight B’s minimum entry requirement is taken both as a green light for borderline applications to high-pressure programmes and as an indication of relatively low standards in recruiting programmes, competing with institutions requiring some A’s. Allowing a situation to persist in which we receive high numbers of what are actually unrealistic applications for high-pressure subjects is to do a disservice to applicants and create bad impressions in schools which filter through, erroneously, to recruiting subjects. Appropriate guidance to give context to the minimum entry requirement is essential. • The very term “minimum entry requirement” is misleading and whilst, for consistency, it is used throughout the current document, it is recommended that a more informative phrase should be universally adopted, such as “minimum academic qualifications (held or predicted) required to enter the selection process”. • The manner of presenting information on intensity of demand requires great care. The group has drafted a document for discussion (Appendix 4) which introduces a broad classification of subjects into those in which (i) demand roughly matches the number of offers we are able to make, (ii) we make offers to one in every two or three applicants, (iii) we make offers to no more than one in four applicants (with a flag for those with no more than one in seven). The group is advising against publishing “going rates” on the grounds that they may discourage applications from lower band schools and invite spurious quality comparisons between programmes, though it is recognised that there exist other imperatives for doing so. • The minimum entry requirement of straight B’s requires review. Whilst there was little criticism of the straight B’s for Highers, the grade bandings for A-levels have changed considerably so that B’s in Highers and A-levels are arguably no longer comparable. For instance 9.5% of A-level candidates achieved 3 A’s in 2005 whereas only 2% of Highers candidates achieved 5 A’s. A tempting solution might be to introduce one or more A’s into the minimum entry requirement at A-level without changing the Highers requirement. The A-level grade statistics vary greatly between subjects and in some cases numbers of grade A awards are skewed heavily towards band A schools (particularly those in the independent sector). The group recommends further analysis of this situation. • Whilst there is recognition of the financial arguments for a locality score (applying to a zone in which commuting from home is feasible), the existence of locality scores carries some negative messages to the wider UK school community, and the wider locality score was particularly questioned. The group recommends a modelling exercise to ascertain 2
  • 3. whether a balanced student intake could be achieved using other measures to replace the wider locality score. As an alternative, consideration should also be given to the award of additional points for achieved grades (over predicted grades). • Concern was expressed about the unreliability of “first in family data”, especially since it has not hitherto been a standard question on the UCAS application. This information is, therefore, not uniformly provided and its appearance may often be directly attributable to the level of guidance available in the school. Such a question is to be introduced (though not mandatory) by UCAS from the 2007/8 admissions cycle onwards. Whilst the group recommends continuation of the “first in family” score until then, it is suggested that its continuation should be reviewed and/or other measures of home/social context should be considered. Full List of Recommendations The following is the full list of recommendations as they arise in the Interim Report of APRG: (1) APRG recommends that further research is undertaken over the next 12 months, into the current SQA/GCE statistical equivalences to test whether the current BBBB/BBB threshold is still applicable. (2) Research should also be undertaken to look into the correlation of entry grades of SQA and GCE students against progression and graduation rates. (3) Dependent on the findings arising from recommendations (1) and (2) a change in the minimum academic qualifications for entry to the selection process may be recommended. (4) Given the difficulties encountered during this review with the inadequacies of available data, APRG points out the need for improved systems of data collection, tracking, monitoring and reporting. Further work should be undertaken to specify this. APRG recognises significant improvements to reporting have taken place since the implementation of USAD in 2004 and that the EUCLID project will be key to fulfilling this obligation in the future. Meantime, robust monitoring of applications, offers and entrants should be undertaken annually by Colleges and reported to RASC; a reporting template should be drawn up to ensure consistency. (5) When the admissions policy was implemented, measures of success were not clearly defined. APRG had to rely on its own interpretation of the objectives set out in the University’s Widening Participation Strategy. APRG therefore recommends that any future revised policy must, at the outset, state clearly the aims of the changes and how the impact will be measured and success or otherwise identified. (6) APRG recommends improving communication with schools/colleges about the University’s general admissions principles, policies and procedures, and the admissions policy for high demand subject areas in particular. Annual documentation and updates on the admissions policy should be circulated to schools as standard at the beginning of each academic year. (7) Clear and transparent pre-application information should be widely available in a variety of formats. This recommendation was strongly supported by the student focus group. Information should be provided on a subject-by-subject basis and should give students a clear indication of the level of competition for places, and the criteria for selection. This information should be expressed in broad categories and should explain the various combinations of qualifications and other qualities that an application should possess in order to succeed. The formats should be presented in ways that do not invite spurious 3
  • 4. comparisons between programmes. The ongoing development of UCAS Entry Profiles will make a significant contribution to this process. Appendix 4 provides an example of the kind of advice sheet which might be made available pre-application. APRG recommends that RASC gives consideration to the content of this advice sheet and whether it is appropriate to make this information publicly available to applicants. (8) Research should be undertaken to track the progress of students admitted particularly to high demand areas where the detailed selection procedure has been applied; this should include a correlation of entry grades against progression rates [see also recommendation (2)] (9) At events such as Open Days, staff (academic and non-academic) should be explicitly briefed to direct students to the appropriate office to receive admissions advice. It is recommended the Open Day Planning Group has responsibility for ensuring this is taken forward. (10) All documentation providing information to applicants about the admissions policy for high demand subject areas should be reviewed by the Admissions Service Manager in consultation with Colleges and where appropriate, language should be simplified. (11) There should be a clear admissions policy statement, covering all areas of the University and providing links to the admissions selection procedures in each of the Colleges. (12) There should be improved signposting and links in the paper and online prospectus to direct students to information about the admissions policy and procedures. (13) An admissions website should be developed with the purpose of communicating the policy and procedures across all subject areas of the University to potential students, parents and advisors. The site should link to the online prospectus and should provide information relating to all aspects of the admissions process. Initially it is recommended that this be developed within the Student Recruitment & Admissions website over the next 12 months, and in the longer term incorporated into the new University website as part of the web development project. (14) Further research should be undertaken to identify the impact that the removal of the wider locality weighting might have on offers and intake. This should be done as part of a wider data modelling exercise. The weightings for school banding and academic score should be modelled to measure the anticipated impact such changed weightings might have on the student intake. Consideration should also be given to the award of additional points for achieved grades (over predicted grades). The aim of this modelling exercise should be to ensure the final weightings help to achieve a balanced student intake. (15) If the above modelling exercise identifies the optimum weighting of academic score and school banding to achieve a balanced cohort, the wider locality weighting within the admissions policy should be abolished and in its place would be one locality weighting for students from the immediate locality only, with suitable adjustment of the area definition. (16) The current weighting of 2 points attached to the first in the family should remain in the short term. Continued monitoring should take place, within the College of Humanities and Social Science and centrally (from the 2007/8 admissions cycle onwards when this information will be available as part of the UCAS application) to identify the proportion of students providing this information. APRG recommends a further review of this factor in 2009 when consideration might be given to the use of IMD or EMA as an alternative to the first in family factor. 4
  • 5. (17) Appropriate resources must be made available to enable the above recommendations to be carried out. (18) The term “minimum entry requirements” should be replaced by a phrase giving a clearer indication of how it is used – such as “minimum academic qualifications (held or predicted) required to enter the selection process”. 5
  • 6. Interim Report of the Admissions Policy Review Group 1.0 Introduction and Background In September 2004, the University of Edinburgh implemented a new undergraduate admissions policy, which aimed to take into consideration the context in which an applicant’s academic grades had been obtained. The policy was implemented for selection for entry to high demand subject areas (defined as those receiving eight or more well-qualified applications per place) in the College of Humanities and Social Science (CHSS) and the College of Science and Engineering (CS&E). At the inception of the policy it was agreed a review should take place at the end of the third year of operation in order to identify whether it had achieved its objectives to put in place an admissions process which more fairly reflects student potential2. The Admissions Policy Review Group (APRG) was convened in spring 2006, chaired by Dr John Martin, Deputy Head of College, College of Science and Engineering. Admissions specialists from each of the Undergraduate Admissions Offices were represented on the Group, as were Student Recruitment and Admissions and EUSA. A full list of the membership and the remit of APRG can be found in Appendix 1. APRG has met five times since May 2006. This interim report to the Recruitment and Admissions Strategy Committee describes what has been done so far, makes some interim recommendations, and explains why further work and at least another cycle of data is required before full conclusions can be reached. 2.0 Review process The review process involved consideration of quantitative and qualitative data from a number of different sources, internal and external. 3.0 Quantitative Data A number of different datasets were considered as part of this review. The data came from both internal and external sources and an APRG Data Sub Group was convened to consider these. The provision of data for tracking purposes presented a challenge as the University currently has no single database which holds application, offer and entrant information. For this reason a number of datasets were considered and all data related to Home/EU unless otherwise stated: • UCAS Dataset for applicants and accepted applicants by socio-economic class, school type and UK locality 2002 – 2005 • University of Edinburgh data (from DACS) for entrants (i.e. fully matriculated students) by socio-economic class, school type and locality 2000 – 2005 • CHSS Data provided from 2004 – 2006 to track the progress of the policy • Data relating to the equivalences of SQA Highers and GCE A-levels • Lothian Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS) data on HE destinations 2001 - 2005 • SAAS Young Student Bursary information • HESA Performance Indicators 2 Admissions Strategy Group Final Report June 2003 6
  • 7. 3.1 UCAS and University of Edinburgh Datasets The data considered related to socio-economic class (2002-2005), school type and UK domicile (2000 – 2005) for applicants and accepted applicants via the UCAS system. With regard to the socio-economic class data, it was found that the percentage of applicants who did not provide this information as part of the UCAS application rose sharply in the 2005 admissions cycle from 12% to 20%. Excluding these unknown applicants, the % of applicants from a low socio economic class3 remained stable across the period. It was a similar picture with the % of accepted applicants, with little change in the proportions of students coming from lower socio-economic groups. The school type data showed a steady rise in applications from both the state and independent sectors 2000-2005; however again there were difficulties with missing data, with an increased proportion of students coming from an unknown school. This was due in part to changes in the UCAS application process. Over the last 5 years, UCAS has moved towards a full online application service, UCAS Apply. UCAS Apply does not make a distinction between the centre from which the online application is being made and the previous institution attended. In some cases this will be the same (e.g. where an applicant is applying directly from their secondary school); however for applicants who are applying independently, the information on school type which HEIs would receive relates to the Apply centre, and information about previous institution attended (and hence school type) would not be available. This difficulty has now been resolved for the 2008 admissions cycle, and work is being undertaken by UCAS to amend the data retrospectively for the 2006 cycle and to ensure the data for 2007 is accurate. Once this work is complete updated reports will be run against the 2006 admissions cycle. If the number of applicants and accepted applicants with an ‘unknown’ school code are excluded then the proportions of independent and state school applications has remained stable over the period. The UK domicile data shows little change in the proportion of students applying from Northern Ireland and Wales over the period 2000 – 2005. Applications from Scotland increased annually (with the exception of 2003), whilst applications from England also increased, but at a much faster rate. 3.2 CHSS Dataset CHSS produce an annual admissions report, which specifically considers the impact the policy has had on applications, offers and entrants in high-demand subject areas. Data is derived from the CHSS data collection tool and relates only to those applications which have gone through the scoring system i.e. only for those degree programmes where eight or more well-qualified applications per place are received. The data, therefore, refers specifically to the selection system and reports by school bands, academic score, locality, first generation and by final score (which includes all of the above). The 2005 report shows that, for lower band schools (C-E) the percentages of offers made and of subsequent intake are significantly higher than the corresponding percentages of applicants whereas (naturally) the opposite is true of the higher band schools (A,B). It is clear that the policy is providing some control over the profile of offers and intakes, though 3 Socio economic class descriptors used by UCAS are: (1) Higher managerial and professional occupations; (2) Lower managerial and professional occupations; (3) Intermediate occupations; (4) Small employers and own account workers; (5) Lower supervisory and technical occupations; (6) Semi-routine occupations; (7 Routine occupations; (8) Unknown. Groups 4-7 are classed as low socio- economic groups. 7
  • 8. the resulting intake from band E is still tiny since the baseline of applications remains so small. Table 1 Band A Band B Band C Band D Band E Unknown Applications 41.4% 20.4% 20.1% 8.0% 1.5% 8.6% Offers 37.7% 14.5% 25.5% 14.5% 2.3% 5.4% Intake 38.0% 14.8% 26.1% 14.8% 2.4% 3.8% It should be noted that the above data compares profiles at the various stages of the application – offer – intake cycle within one year. It is a snap-shot and does not, therefore, provide a direct comparison with the UCAS and University of Edinburgh datasets described in 3.2. Further annual data will need to be collected to give a sense of how the effect of the policy is evolving. Work is currently ongoing within Management Information Services (MIS) to give formal support to the CHSS data collection tool and to build a Business Objects universe. Once complete, this will enable annual comparison reporting which should significantly improve the quality of the data output. 3.3 SQA and GCE Equivalences The minimum academic qualifications of BBBB/BBB required to enter the selection process was originally chosen as it was deemed to represent the minimum threshold of academic achievement required to enable a student to study at degree level. APRG agreed that as this equivalence was at the core of the admissions policy, it should be reviewed to test its current applicability. The grade bandings for A-levels have changed considerably over the last few years, to the extent that the present grade A contains not only those who historically would have achieved a grade A, but also a high proportion of those who would have achieved a grade B. The percentage of students achieving at least one grade A at A-level has been increasing; in 2000 the figure was 18.1%; in 2003 it was 21.6% and in 2005 it rose to 23.6%. In considering the number of applicants achieving 3A grades at A-level in 2005 the figure was 9.5%, whilst the comparable figure for SQA candidates of those achieving 5A grades was 2%. A tempting solution to the A-level grade inflation problem might be to increase the requirements at A-level, whilst maintaining the SQA requirements at the current level. Initial discussions indicated that this might pose some problems related to the great variability of A- level grade profiles in different subjects and to the way that grade profiles map to school bandings. The suggestion might actually work against the intentions of the policy: for example, 27.1% of candidates from independent schools achieved AAA at A-level, compared with 6% of state school students. APRG agreed it would be helpful to identify how student’s SQA and GCE entry levels relate to their progress once admitted and their subsequent ability to cope with degree-level study. This is a fundamental test of the admissions policy. 8
  • 9. Recommendations (1) APRG recommends that further research is undertaken over the next 12 months, into the current SQA/GCE statistical equivalences to test whether the current BBBB/BBB threshold is still applicable. (2) Research should also be undertaken to look into the correlation of entry grades of SQA and GCE students against progression and graduation rates. (3) Dependent on the findings arising from recommendations (1) and (2) a change in the minimum academic qualifications for entry to the selection process may be recommended. 3.4 LEAPS Data This data shows significant progress has been made since 2001 in the number of LEAPS4 eligible students entering University of Edinburgh. In 2001, 107 LEAPS eligible students entered the University of Edinburgh; by 2005 this figure had risen to 216, representing a 102% increase over this period. Although it is impossible to draw any firm conclusions, it is likely the admissions policy has had some influence over applications. The minimum academic requirements of BBBB in SQA Highers are seen as attainable by students who may previously have discounted Edinburgh as a potential option for study. There is increasing interest from local LEAPS students in applying to Edinburgh as their institution of choice. Other factors influencing this pattern include the restructuring of Admissions Offices and selection processes in Colleges, which may have helped to improve identification of LEAPS students at the point of application and thereby increased the likelihood of offer of admission; and increased targeted recruitment activity within the local area, particularly with projects such as Pathways to the Professions. Table 2: Entrants 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 University of Edinburgh 216 157 133 100 107 3.5 SAAS Young Student Bursary Information (YSB) The data obtained from SAAS indicates an upward trend in the numbers of students awarded a full bursary. For the 2005/6 academic session a total of 900 students from the University of Edinburgh received the full bursary, this compared with a figure of 580 in 2004/5 and 429 in 2003/4. Moreover, Scottish Executive figures forecast that the total number of students receiving a bursary (of any level) would increase by 8% from 2004/5 to 2005/65. The actual increase in University of Edinburgh figures was 16%, thus showing the University is recruiting students who are eligible for a YSB at a faster rate than the national trend. These figures therefore point to some success in terms of increasing entrants from low-income backgrounds to the University. 4 LEAPS eligibility criteria may be found at http://www.leapsonline.org 5 SAAS 9
  • 10. Table 3 YSB Bandings 2005/6 2004/5 2003/4 £1-£683 285 404 311 £684 - £727 15 16 13 £728 - £1956 505 590 466 £1957 - £2394 155 580 429 £2395 (full bursary) 6 900 n/a n/a Total Number Bursaries 1860 1590 1219 3.6 HESA Performance Indicators (PIs) The latest PIs published in 2006, provide data for the 2004/5 academic session and therefore represent the first year of operation of the admissions policy. The statistics show the gap between University of Edinburgh performance against its benchmark has narrowed for state school entrants from 14.5% in 2003/4 to 11.7% in 2004/5. The same is true for lower social classes with a narrowing from 6.6% below benchmark in 2003/4 to 3.7% below in 2004/5. Finally the data relating to students from low participation neighbourhoods is also showing the University was 2.1% below its benchmark in 2003/4 and 1.9% below its benchmark in 2004/5. A full commentary on the PIs for the University of Edinburgh is available at www.planning.ed.ac.uk/PISG/intro.htm Table 4 State Schools/Colleges UoE perf Benchmark Difference 2004/5(published 2006) 66.7% 78.4% 11.7% 2003/4(published 2005) 65.3% 79.8% 14.5% 2002/3(published 2004) 65.7% 81.0% 15.3% 2001/2(published 2003) 63.0% 78.0% 15.0% 2000/1(published 2002) 63.0% 77.0% 14.0% Lower Social Classes UoE perf Benchmark Difference 2004/5(published 2006) 17.1% 20.8% 3.7% 2003/4(published 2005) 15.3% 21.9% 6.6% 2002/3(published 2004) 17.8% 21.8% 4.0% 2001/2(published 2003) 15.0% 19.0% 4.0% 2000/1(published 2002) 13.0% 19.0% 6.0% Lower Participation UoE perf Benchmark Difference Neighbourhoods 2004/5(published 2006) 8.2% 10.1% 1.9% 2003/4(published 2005) 8.7% 10.8% 2.1% 2002/3(published 2004) 8.9% 10.9% 2.0% 2001/2(published 2003) 8.0% 10.0% 2.0% 2000/1(published 2002) 7.0% 9.0% 2.0% Despite welcome trends in the “difference” columns, these are small and generally as much to do with movements in the benchmark as in the University performance. The absolute University figures show various fluctuations, not consistent trends, and certainly not a step change upon implementation of the policy. The latter was not to be expected, though we should be interested in trends over the next few years as the policy “beds in”. 6 An additional banding was added for 2005/06 session to identify those on the full bursary. Previous to this the final banding for 2003/4 and 2004/5 was £1957 - £2100 and £1957 - £2150 respectively 10
  • 11. 3.7 Conclusions and Recommendations The quantitative aspect of this review presented significant challenges. The internal data was considered largely inconclusive for the reasons stated, and showed few discernible trends in terms of increasing applicants or entrants from lower socio-economic groups or from state schools. In some respects this finding was disappointing; however it was not entirely unexpected, particularly given that the admissions policy was not designed to change the balance of the student intake radically. The external data has hints of welcome trends. For instance the latest PIs seem to show the University making some progress towards its benchmarks for entrants from lower socio- economic classes, state schools and low participation neighbourhoods. However, this trend is small and it is not possible to discern any correlation of this with the internal data. As the latest PIs represent a snapshot for the first year of the policy it is too early to draw any firm conclusions. It is important to observe that the implementation of the admissions policy has been accompanied by a significant increase in the number of applications to University of Edinburgh. This has been one of the most dramatic changes over the period since implementation, with applications rising 28.3% between 2003 and 2005 (see table 5). Over these two years, comparator institutions have not experienced the same level of increase in applications as Edinburgh and nationally total UCAS applications (all institutions) have risen at a much slower rate; 11.34% over the period 2003–2005. (It is of incidental interest that the increases at comparator institutions in the earlier period 2000-2002 do much to balance out the later increases in Edinburgh.) Table 5 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 Edinburgh 41,645 36,721 32,447 32,894 31,627 30,232 Aberdeen 14,524 13,278 13,156 13,266 12,456 10,693 Glasgow 27,589 26,130 26,570 27,144 25,261 24,096 Leeds 54,030 54,086 52,444 49,194 45,442 42,755 Newcastle 28,417 29,429 28,088 25,127 21,618 20,684 All Institutions 2,285,569 2,052,704 2,046,131 1,978,659 1,959,879 1,943,181 It is likely that this increase in applications has, to some extent been due to the admissions policy. In many subject areas, particularly the social sciences, minimum academic qualifications required for entry to the selection process went from AABBC to BBBB (SQA Higher) or AAB to BBB (GCE A-level), which is likely to have made Edinburgh an attractive choice for many students who, in the past may not have considered it as an option. However, it is impossible to identify a direct link in the rise in applications with the admissions policy, when the period since the implementation of the policy has seen some major external changes, such as the changed funding arrangements in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This factor may also have had a bearing on the rise in applications. The increase in applications makes identification of any trends, and like-for-like comparisons extremely problematic and for this reason it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions from this part of the review. Whilst the quantitative data does not provide firm evidence that the policy has been a success, neither is there strong evidence of the policy not working, and indeed the external data does appear to show some progress towards meeting benchmarks. The question which is impossible to answer with any certainty, but nonetheless important to ask is: What would the application and entrant profile have been now, at the end of the 2006 admissions cycle, had the admissions policy not been implemented? 11
  • 12. Recommendations (4) Given the difficulties encountered during this review with the inadequacies of available data, APRG points out the need for improved systems of data collection, tracking, monitoring and reporting. Further work should be undertaken to specify this. APRG recognises significant improvements to reporting have taken place since the implementation of USAD in 2004 and that the EUCLID project will be key to fulfilling this obligation in the future. Meantime, robust monitoring of applications, offers and entrants should be undertaken annually by Colleges and reported to RASC; a reporting template should be drawn up to ensure consistency. (5) When the admissions policy was implemented, measures of success were not clearly defined. APRG had to rely on its own interpretation of the objectives set out in the University’s Widening Participation Strategy. APRG therefore recommends that any future revised policy must, at the outset, state clearly the aims of the changes and how the impact will be measured and success or otherwise identified. 4.0 Qualitative Data Focus Groups were held between September 2006 and February 2007, aimed at ascertaining the views of teachers, admissions officers and students on the admissions policy and its impact. 4.1 Teachers’ Focus Group A Teachers’ Focus Group took place in September with secondary Head teachers from a range of schools invited to discuss the admissions policy. Representatives came from both the state and independent sectors with representation from Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle and Northern Ireland (see Appendix 2). Representatives were asked to complete a questionnaire before attending the meeting (see Appendix 3) and the data from the questionnaire was used to inform and direct discussions. The event was primarily focussed on the admissions policy and its use within the College of Humanities and Social Science and did not cover Medicine or Veterinary medicine. 4.1.1 Pre-Application Information The Focus Group highlighted concerns over the information available to students pre- application. In particular it felt more should be done to explain the context in which applicants are applying, particularly to those high demand programmes where the University receives in excess of eight applications per place. Clear pre-application information should be provided to students on a subject-by-subject basis. The Focus Group felt there was a risk that if schools see high numbers of unsuccessful applicants to the College of Humanities and Social Science, the assumption may be made that the policy applies across all subject areas, which might ultimately impact on the University’s recruiting subject areas. 4.1.2 Information about the selection process Some members of the Focus Group believed it would be helpful for more detailed information about the selection process (including an indication of the weightings of the various factors) to be made available to schools and their advisors. This would allow guidance staff to advise 12
  • 13. and direct students on the most appropriate programmes to apply for. There was little support for providing numerical details directly to students. 4.1.3 First in Family The Focus Group discussed the issue of assigning credit to applicants who are first in their family to enter HE. There were mixed views on this issue, with some colleagues raising concerns over the number of students providing this information in the application, particularly as it is not part of the UCAS application. Other colleagues questioned the validity of it as an indicator when it was based on decisions made many years ago by parents who may have opted not to enter university for personal and not necessarily financial reasons. 4.1.4 Locality Focus Group members acknowledged that the increasing cost of education has led to more students choosing to study at home and there was agreement that, because of this, students should have the option of studying at their local university if they wished. Nonetheless the view was expressed that studying away from home should be encouraged by schools, to allow students to seek opportunities beyond their standard horizons. The presence of any kind of locality factor was identified as a potential barrier to this. Concern was also expressed by one representative that, given the relatively small number of HE institutions in Northern Ireland, students already had a limited choice and he would not wish to see students further disadvantaged by a locality factor which excludes Northern Ireland. 4.1.5 Tracking of Students The Focus Group indicated that secondary schools needed to be assured that students who were admitted were progressing in their studies. If schools see the policy working in terms of good graduate output, there were likely to be fewer grounds for complaint about the policy itself. 4.1.6 APRG Conclusion and Recommendations arising from the Teachers’ Focus Group APRG acknowledged the need to review current information available to students at the pre- application stage. Current information provision is generally College-specific which means students need to have some knowledge of the University’s internal structures. It was agreed that pre-application information at University level needed to be improved to ensure students are provided with adequate information about the selection procedures and their realistic chances of a successful application on a subject-by-subject basis. APRG noted that, in drafting such pre-application information for the benefit of prospective students, the objectives of the policy and the differing issues for selecting and recruiting programmes need to be carefully considered. In particular, any advertising of crude “going rates” risks discouraging applications from lower band schools and encouraging spurious quality comparisons between programmes. However it is clear that no one benefits from a procedure which encourages large numbers of applicants who in reality are unlikely to receive an offer of admission. The negative reputational effects of such a policy are likely to spread beyond the high pressure programmes and affect recruiting areas unless good information and advice is given. 13
  • 14. Recommendations (6) APRG recommends improving communication with schools/colleges about the University’s general admissions principles, policies and procedures, and the admissions policy for high demand subject areas in particular. Annual documentation and updates on the admissions policy should be circulated to schools as standard at the beginning of each academic year. (7) Clear and transparent pre-application information should be widely available in a variety of formats. (This recommendation was also strongly supported by the student focus group.) Information should be provided on a subject-by-subject basis and should give students a clear indication of the level of competition for places, and the criteria for selection. This information should be expressed in broad categories and should explain the various combinations of qualifications and other qualities that an application should possess in order to succeed. The formats should be presented in ways that do not invite spurious comparisons between programmes. Appendix 4 provides an example of the kind of advice sheet which might be made available pre-application. APRG recommends that RASC gives consideration to the content of this advice sheet and whether it is appropriate to make this information publicly available to applicants. (8) Research should be undertaken to track the progress of students admitted particularly to high demand areas where the detailed selection procedure has been applied; this should include a correlation of entry grades against progression rates [see also recommendation (2)] 4.2 Admissions Officers’ Focus Group An Admissions Officers’ Focus Group took place in November with representatives from each of the admissions offices present with the exception of Veterinary Medicine. The aim of the session was to ascertain the views of front-line admissions staff directly involved in the operation of the policy. 4.2.1 Communication of the Policy The Admissions Officers Focus Group felt the language used to describe the policy needed to be simplified. Phrases such as “academic achievement in context” whilst understood by admissions practitioners may not be particularly clear for potential applicants. In addition the University lacks a clear statement relating to the University’s admissions policy - the majority of information available is CHSS specific. They felt the complexity of the selection process in CHSS made it difficult for those not closely involved in admissions to provide good and accurate advice to enquirers, for example at Open Days. Action was recommended to ensure that students and their advisors visiting the University were provided with good pre-application advice. The Admissions Officers Focus Group identified a gap in information provision, namely the lack of an admissions specific website. Currently, information relating to undergraduate admissions is held within the online prospectus. Whilst this does provide students with information relating to subject content, minimum academic qualifications for entry to selection etc, the content mirrors the hardcopy prospectus and in this respect it does not add value or provide detailed information relating to the admissions policy. 14
  • 15. 4.2.2 Locality The Admissions Officers discussed the locality factor and identified this as one of the most difficult aspects of the policy to explain/defend. It was not always clear, either to admissions officers or potential students why a student from the North of England should gain additional credit in the selection process, compared with a student from the South of England. Potential alternatives to the current locality weightings were identified as: • Removal of the wider locality, providing credit only to very local students • Removal of the North of England from the wider locality and replace with one locality weighting for Scottish applicants only. 4.2.3 Socio-economic context The Admissions Officers Focus Group discussed the use of first in the family within the admissions policy and numerous concerns, similar to those raised by the Teachers Focus Group were identified. Firstly, many students do not include this information as part of their application, as it is not currently a standard question on the UCAS application. Provision of this information is therefore not uniform and may often be directly attributable to the level of guidance available in the school during the application process. The information cannot be validated in any way by the University and is therefore taken at face value. 4.2.4 APRG Conclusion and Recommendations arising from the Admissions Officers Focus Group APRG agreed the current information regarding the admissions policy could be confusing for applicants and the distinction needs to be drawn between the admissions principles, the policy and the procedures for selection. These three terms are often used interchangeably, which leads to confusion. APRG discussed the merits and feasibility of removing the wider locality weighting but retaining the weighting for very local students. It was agreed that this would serve to protect those students who wished to stay at home and study at a local institution (which had been one of the original reasons for including a locality factor in the policy). The boundaries for this local weighting would need to be based on the ability of a student staying at home being able to travel daily to the University for his/her studies. It was anticipated that students applying from Fife, Borders, Falkirk and Clackmannan would be included in the local banding. This was identified as an important priority, particularly as these regions do not have programmes such as LEAPS in operation. APRG recognised the concerns raised both by the Teachers’ and Admissions Officers’ Focus Groups about the use of first in family. However, a number of studies7 have identified family support and encouragement as a key factor in influencing the decision of students to enter HE. It is understood that plans are now in place to include a question in the 2008 UCAS application on whether an applicant’s parents or carers have previously attended HE. Given the prospect of better data for a factor of some significance, APRG agreed this factor should continue to form part of the admission selection process. APRG considered the use of alternative socio-economic indicators which might be incorporated into the admissions policy in the longer term. 7 Universities Scotland ‘Literature Review of Research into Perceptions of Higher Education by Under- represented Groups’ March 2005 15
  • 16. The Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is based on the total taxable household income (of the individual applicant) and would therefore be a good indicator of socio- economic class. EMA is banded according to the taxable income (see table 6). EMA is UK wide, but is not currently part of the UCAS application. Discussions are ongoing within the UCAS Contextual Data Sub Group about whether this might incorporated into the application process in the long term. Table 6 Household Taxable Income EMA Weekly Payment £0 - £20,817 £30 £20,818 - £25,521 £20 £25,522 - £30,810 £10 Over £30,810 £0 The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) is another indicator of socio-economic class which is increasingly being utilised by Local Education Authorities. The SIMD is presented by various data zone levels and allows for small pockets of deprivation to be identified. These data zones, which have an average population size of 769, are ranked on a scale of 1 (most deprived) to 6505 (least deprived). SIMD is therefore not person specific but is locality specific. SIMD is publicly available on the Scottish Executive website and enables enquirers to drill down to postcode level to retrieve a profile of the area with regard to Education, Skills and Training. SIMD lists: • The Average tariff score of all pupils on the S4 roll with the comparator figure for Scotland • The Percentage of S4 cohort that attained SCQF level 3 (foundation standard grade) or better in both English and Maths • The Index of Deprivation ranking i.e. where the postcode sits in relation to other postcodes within Scotland. The ranking is available either as a total ranking (which includes all the ‘measures’ such as Education, Health, Housing) or as a ranking specific to the Education, Skills and Training category. Index of Multiple Deprivation is also available for England, Northern Ireland and Wales, although the measures will vary8. Recommendations: (9) At events such as Open Days, staff (academic and non-academic) should be explicitly briefed to direct students to the appropriate office to receive admissions advice. It is recommended the Open Day Planning Group has responsibility for ensuring this is taken forward. (10) All documentation providing information to applicants about the admissions policy for high demand subject areas should be reviewed by the Admissions Service Manager in consultation with Colleges and where appropriate, language should be simplified. (11) There should be a clear admissions policy statement, covering all areas of the University and providing links to the admissions selection procedures in each of the Colleges. 8 Further information about the IMD for each of the devolved administrations may be found at http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/Info.do;jsessionid=ac1f930dce6f68b137f12ee434 4a225ea9c19e2b659.e38OaNuRbNuSbi0MchqRaN0Tc3r0n6jAmljGr5XDqQLvpAe? page=Indices_of_deprivation.htm&bhcp=1#Introduction 16
  • 17. (12) There should be improved signposting and links in the paper and online prospectus to direct students to information about the admissions policy. (13) An admissions website should be developed with the purpose of communicating the policy across all subject areas of the University to potential students, parents and advisors. The site should link to the online prospectus and should provide information relating to all aspects of the admissions process. Initially it is recommended that this be developed within the Student Recruitment & Admissions website over the next 12 months, and in the longer term incorporated into the new University website as part of the web development project. (14) Further research should be undertaken to identify the impact that the removal of the wider locality weighting might have on offers and intake. This should be done as part of a wider data modelling exercise. The weightings for school banding and academic score should be modelled to measure the anticipated impact such changed weightings might have on the student intake. Consideration should also be given to the award of additional points for achieved grades (over predicted grades). The aim of this modelling exercise should be to ensure the final weightings help to achieve a balanced student intake. (15) If the above modelling exercise identifies the optimum weighting of academic score and school banding to achieve a balanced cohort, the wider locality weighting within the admissions policy should be abolished and in its place would be one locality weighting for students from the immediate locality only, with suitable adjustment of the area definition. (16) The current weighting of 2 points attached to the first in the family should remain in the short term. Continued monitoring should take place, within College of Humanities and Social Science and centrally (from the 2007/8 admissions cycle when this information will be available as part of the UCAS application) to identify the proportion of students providing this information. APRG recommends a further review of this factor in 2009 when consideration might be given to the use of IMD or EMA as an alternative to the first in family factor. (17) Appropriate resources must be made available to enable the above recommendations to be carried out. 4.3 Students’ Focus Group A small focus group of current students was held in February 2007 facilitated by Ross Neilson of EUSA and Kathleen Hood of SRA. Nine students attended reflecting the diversity of our intake, but not in statistically correct proportions: 3 mature students who came in through access courses; 2 local state schools; 1 local independent school; 1 French student with international baccalaureate; 1 Eire; 1 USA. Only 3 of the students were admitted in high-demand subject areas. However all were keen to discuss their views of the policy and how it was perceived. 4.3.1 Perceptions of the University There was a general consensus that Edinburgh is viewed as an elite institution and difficult to get into. One of the mature students who is a parent of teenagers said that this perception could be off-putting for local students. However there was understanding that some courses were easier to get into than others and that different grades were required for different programmes. Some expected offer-grades to be higher and made the presumption that the lower the grade the less popular the course. 17
  • 18. There was general consensus that the apparent lowering of some minimum entry requirements helped Edinburgh's reputation. 18
  • 19. 4.3.2 The Admissions Policy The group was asked to read and comment on the CHSS guidelines document and the new draft “Competition for Places for Undergraduate Applicants” document (Appendix 4). None of the group was particularly aware of the admissions policy (unsurprising given their entry routes) and the factors that would be taken into account. One local school student was advised by the school that they shouldn't worry about the personal statement since, having 5 A grade Highers, they would automatically receive an offer for Physics. The student was aware that this would not necessarily be the case for other subjects. On looking at the contextual information in the CHSS guidelines there was general consensus that it was reassuring that other factors were taken into account. However, the group wondered to what extent students from well-off backgrounds outwith the localities would feel discriminated against. Interestingly there was a comment that section 4 of the CHSS guidelines (‘Is my preferred subject area really popular’) was off-putting which led into discussion of the draft “Competition for Places” document. The group was very positive about the new document and suggested it should be web- mounted so that students could assess their chances of an offer on a specific subject basis. They agreed that there was not a good understanding of minimum entry requirements – i.e. that their attainment does not necessarily guarantee an offer. They much preferred a more precise phrase such as ‘minimum academic qualifications required to enter the selection process’. On being asked specifically if they would have found it useful to have access to information on how many students entered and with what specific grades to different courses, the unanimous response was that this would not have been of specific interest. Recommendation: (18) The term “minimum entry requirements” should be replaced by a phrase giving a clearer indication of how it is used – such as “minimum academic qualifications (held or predicted) required to enter the selection process”. 19
  • 20. APRG Interim Report Appendix 1 Admissions Policy Review Group Remit and Membership The remit of the Group is to review all aspects of the Admissions Policy and specifically to: • Ascertain the extent to which the policy has been successful in meeting the stated objectives of the University’s Widening Participation Strategy (May 2002) to - increase participation by students from state sector schools and areas of low participation - increase the proportion of students progressing from FE, especially by the HNC/D route - increase participation by mature students from under-represented groups • Identify issues arising from the implementation of the policy, with particular reference to its impact on our external customers, namely enquirers, applicants, schools and colleges • Consider the internal impact of implementation on the management of the admissions process within Admissions Offices and ascertain the extent to which the policy has met the aspirations of our own Schools and Subject Areas • Identify (if applicable), where revisions to the policy may be required, and in such circumstances bring forward proposals for revision of the policy to the Recruitment & Admissions Strategy Committee In carrying out this review, the Group should take into consideration any relevant legislation and HE developments, which might impact on policy. In particular, reference may be made to the QAA Code of Practice on Recruitment and Admissions and the Schwartz Report ‘Fair Admissions in Higher Education’. Membership Dr John Martin (Convenor) Deputy Head of College of Science & Engineering Mrs Kathleen Hood Widening Participation Manager, SRA Ms Lesley Jackson (Secretary) Admissions Service Manager, SRA Dr Charles Jedrej Associate Dean, CHSS Dr Lisa Kendall Head of the College Admissions Office, CHSS Mr Ross Neilson Vice President, Academic Affairs, EUSA Mrs Jen Pass Recruitment & Admissions Manager, CS&E Mrs Elizabeth Lister Director, SRA Dr Donald Thomson Director of Admissions (Medicine) Mr Colin Stead Director of Admissions (Veterinary Medicine) 20
  • 21. APRG Interim Report Appendix 2 Admissions Policy Review Group Teachers Focus Group Attendance List Secondary School Representatives Mr John Light Edinburgh Academy, Edinburgh Ms Sandra Simpson Balerno High School, Midlothian Mr John Stevenson Sullivan Upper School, Holywood, NI Dr Rodney Mallinson George Watsons College, Edinburgh Mr Ken Cunningham Hillhead High School, Glasgow Mr James Miller The Royal Grammar School, Newcastle Mr Ged Lerpiniere LEAPS Dr Christopher Ray Manchester Grammar School, Manchester Mr Alasdair Hendrie Beath High School, Fife Mr Arthur Biagi Holyrood High School, Edinburgh University of Edinburgh Dr John Martin Admissions Policy Review Group Mrs Elizabeth Lister Director, SRA Dr Lisa Kendall Head of Undergraduate Admissions, CHSS Dr Charles Jedrej Associate Dean CHSS Ms Lesley Jackson Admissions Service Manager, SRA Mrs Kathleen Hood Widening Participation Manager, SRA Mr Niall Bradley Deputy Director, SRA 21
  • 22. APRG Interim Report Appendix 3 University of Edinburgh Admissions Policy Questionnaire The University of Edinburgh is currently undertaking a review of its undergraduate admissions policy. Part of the review will consider the impact the admissions policy has had on schools/students. The purpose of this questionnaire is to gauge the views of the schools sector and to identify any particular issues the sector may have regarding the University’s admissions policy. The responses from this questionnaire will be collated and discussed by the University’s Admissions Policy Review Group and the results will be used to inform future admissions policy developments within the University. Section A: School/Personal Information Name: ………….…………………………………………………………………… School: …………………………………………………………………………….. Role/Designation in School …………………………………………………….. Section B: Understanding of the Admissions Policy 1. How would you rate your understanding of the University’s admissions policy? Very Good  Good  Not very good  Very Poor  2. In each section please tick the statement which you feel is most applicable a. I know in which subject areas the admissions policy is applied  I am unsure in which subject areas the admissions policy is applied  b. I know what additional admissions criteria are used in the policy  I am unsure what additional admissions criteria are used in the policy  c. Students can easily find information about the admissions policy  It is difficult for students to find information about the admissions policy  d. Students generally understand the admissions policy  Students don’t understand the admissions policy  22
  • 23. Section C: Admissions Policy Principles 3. Do you agree that universities should take into consideration the context in which an applicant has achieved their grades when making selection decisions? Yes  No  Don’t know  Comments ………………………………………………………………………………... ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 4. Do you think an application from a local student should receive preference over a non- local student (where all else is equal)? Yes  No  Don’t know  Comments ………………………………………………………………………………... ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 5. Do you think the minimum entry requirements (BBBB at SQA Higher / BBB at GCE A-level) are fair and transparent? Yes  No  Don’t know  Comments ………………………………………………………………………………... ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… Section D: Impact of the Admissions Policy 6. How would you describe the affect the policy has had on your students/school? Significant, positive impact  Significant, negative impact  Positive impact  Negative impact  Little impact  No impact  23
  • 24. 7. How do you think the admissions policy has changed the number of students applying from your school to the University? More students are applying  Fewer students are applying  Numbers applying are relatively unchanged  8. How do you think the admissions policy has changed the number of offers students applying from your school receive from the University? More students are being offered places  Fewer students are being offered places  Number of students being offered places relatively unchanged  9. Please provide additional comments on how the policy has affected students in your school/sector ………….………………………………………………………………………………... ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 10. Do you have any particular areas of concern regarding the policy? ……………………………………………………………………………………………... ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… Section E: Communication of the Policy 11. What additional information could the University provide to enable a better understanding of the policy by schools/students/parents? ………….………………………………………………………………………………... ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 24
  • 25. 12. In the event that amendments are made to the admissions policy, how should changes be most effectively communicated to ensure schools and students are aware of how the changes might impact on them. ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………... ………………………………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 13. If you have any additional comments you would like to make please include these here. ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………... ………………………………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… Thank you for taking the time to complete this questionnaire, your input to this process is greatly appreciated by the University. Once complete, please return this questionnaire to Lesley Jackson, Admissions Service Manager, Student Recruitment & Admissions, University of Edinburgh, 57 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JU. 25
  • 26. APRG Interim Report Appendix 4 Competition for places for Undergraduate UK/EU Applicants This document provides important pre-application information about the competition for places across each of the subject areas in the University. The information relates to the number of applications received from UK/EU students in the previous UCAS admissions cycle and the number of offers (conditional and unconditional) we were able to make to UK/EU students. Full statistics on applications, offers and accepted applicants are available at www.sra.ed.ac.uk/info_students.html 1. Subjects where demand from qualified applicants matches the number of offers we can make. Archaeology Earth Sciences Religious Studies Architectural History Ecological Sciences Russian Biological Sciences Engineering and Electronics Sanskrit Biomedical Sciences Geography (BSc) Scottish Ethnology Celtic Linguistics Scottish History Chemistry Mind and Language Social Policy Computing Science/Informatics Mathematics Social Work Design and Technology Education Medical Sciences (not Medicine) Sports Management Divinity Physics Sport Science What does this mean for applicants? Applicants will generally have a very good chance of receiving an offer of admission as long as they hold (or are predicted to achieve) the published minimum academic qualifications required to enter the selection process, have a good personal statement, demonstrating a strong interest in their chosen subject and a supportive academic reference. 2. Subjects for which we make offers to 1 in 2, or 1 in 3 qualified applicants Arabic History (Economic & Social) Physical Education Community Education Italian Primary Education Economics Japanese Scandinavian Studies English Language Music Scottish Literature Fine Art Nursing Social Anthropology German What does this mean for applicants? The number of applications we receive from students who achieve (or are predicted to achieve) our minimum academic qualifications outweighs the number of offers made. For most of these subjects we receive 2 - 3 applications for every offer we are able to make. For these subjects, in addition to holding the published minimum academic qualifications required to enter the selection process, having a good personal statement and a supportive academic reference, other factors may be taken into consideration and additional credit is given to students who: • Have academic grades achieved or predicted above the minima set out above • Are applying from schools where a relatively small proportion of students progress to higher education or where the level of academic achievement is considerably below the national average. • Are applying from schools in the local area (defined as City of Edinburgh , East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Scottish Borders, Fife, Falkirk and district, Clackmannanshire) and applicants from schools in the wider locality (defined as the rest of Scotland, Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, Teeside, Tyne and Wear). • Whose parents or carers have not previously attended university. Normally at least one of the above additional factors will apply to those who are made an offer for the majority of these programmes. 26
  • 27. For some of these subjects, such as Music, Physical Education and Primary Education we are also looking for evidence of relevant skills and experience in your UCAS personal statement. 3. Subjects which are in very high demand and for which we make offers to no more than 1 in 4 of qualified applicants Ancient History Geography (MA degrees) Philosophy Architecture* History* Politics Business Studies History of Art Psychology (MA) Chinese International Relations Sociology Classics Law Spanish English Literature* Medicine* Veterinary Medicine* French Modern European Languages What does this mean for applicants? For these subjects we receive a very high number of applications and therefore are normally unable to make offers of admission to all those who apply to us with only the minimum academic qualifications. The level of competition is such that we generally receive 4 or more applications for every offer we make. Those subjects marked * are the most competitive and for these subjects we receive up to 7 applications for every offer we are able make. Selection Criteria Medicine For Medicine there are 202 places available for Home/EU students and approximately 1 in 7 of those who apply will be made an offer of admission. All students must sit the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) www.ukcat.ac.uk. Academic selectors consider academic and non- academic achievements: those who are offered a place with us score very highly in both of these aspects. Applicants must demonstrate clearly in their personal statement a strong understanding of medicine, normally through career exploration. All applicants are strongly advised to gain a wide variety of work experience in this area prior to submitting your UCAS application. Veterinary Medicine For Veterinary Medicine there are 72 places available for Home/EU students and approximately 1 in 5 of those who apply will be made an offer of admission. Academic selectors consider both academic and non-academic achievements. An interview forms part of the selection procedure and, to be short-listed for interview, applicants must normally score highly in both of these aspects. Interviews take place between November and January and are aimed at further exploring the information in the UCAS application, covering suitability for, and interest in Veterinary Medicine and career exploration to date. All applicants are therefore strongly advised to gain a wide variety of work experience prior to submitting their UCAS application. Other high demand subjects listed above For the other high demand subjects, applicants who receive offers normally achieve grades in excess of the published minimum academic qualifications required to enter the selection process. For these subjects, in addition to holding the minimum academic requirements, having a good personal statement and a supportive academic reference, other factors are taken into consideration and additional credit is given to students who: • Have academic grades achieved or predicted above the minima set out above • Are applying from schools where a relatively small proportion of students progress to higher education or where the level of academic achievement is considerably below the national average. • Are applying from schools in the local area (defined as City of Edinburgh , East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Scottish Borders, Fife, Falkirk and district, Clackmannanshire) and applicants from schools in the wider locality (defined as the rest of Scotland, Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, Teeside, Tyne and Wear). 27
  • 28. • Whose parents or carers have not previously attended university. Applicants who are offered places for these subjects normally hold grades considerably above the minima and in some cases may also hold one or more of the other additional factors listed. For some of these high demand subjects, such as Architecture, Law and Primary Education we are looking for strong evidence of career exploration. 28

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