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Fair admissions to higher education - Universities UK's initial response to Schwartz draft recommendations

Universities UK Media Release, April 6, 2004:

Universities UK notes the publication of the draft recommendations on fair admissions to higher education (HE) and will respond to the consultation in due course, both in terms of the principles outlined and their likely impact. 

Universities UK welcomes the review's recognition that existing admissions processes are generally fair; that admissions should remain a matter for individual institutions and that in assessing applicants' merit and potential, institutions may legitimately consider other factors in addition to examination results. The clarification of the potential legal issues relating to this area is also extremely helpful.

We note the suggestion that universities may wish to include voluntarily a section on admissions within their access agreement with the Office for Fair Access, or alternatively may wish to confirm to HEFCE that they had adopted the ‘Schwartz Principles’. Universities UK has consistently argued that OFFA should focus on supporting efforts to widen the pool of applicants, rather than be involved in admissions, which should remain a matter for individual institutions.

Diana Warwick, Chief Executive of Universities UK said: "Universities are committed to ensuring fair access. The key need is to increase applications and universities alone cannot make this happen - all stakeholders in education from the earliest years have a role to play. Universities are already working hard to identify those with the potential to benefit from higher education and will carefully consider any potential improvements to existing processes. 

"Universities UK, which plays a key role in spreading good practice across the sector, notes the recommendation that it should work with the Standing Conference of Principals in a number of areas."

These include: the scope for co-ordination of tests; the applications processes for part-time study; a review of the geographical spread of special admissions arrangements, for example compact schemes; and possible improvements to the many forms related to admissions. 

Diana Warwick added: "We will be consulting members and other stakeholders, including UCAS, and will address these suggestions in our response to the recommendations. It is vital that adequate consideration is given to the direct and indirect costs of implementing any changes, including the burden of bureaucracy, and that any recommendations are considered in light of the proposals on 14-19 Reform."

We also note the recommendation for a Post Qualification Application (PQA) system. Universities UK has stated that it would support such a move in principle, provided universities have sufficient time between results and the start of the academic year and provided this would not require a change in the date of entry to higher education. 

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Last updated: 6 April 2004 11:15
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