Summers of discontent

February 24, 2011

I welcome a further review of post-qualifications applications ("Admissions accomplished?", 10 February). However, please ditch the hackneyed discourse of the "lazy academic". According to Steven Schwartz ("Fairer by far", 10 February), "some unkind people" think that the only objection admissions tutors have to PQA is "that they do not want to work during the summer".

This perception is hardly surprising when the six-step process described by Mary Curnock Cook ("Best outcome", 10 February) omits a significant and time-consuming aspect of the cycle for many oversubscribed selecting programmes. After students receive their predicted grades and before they get conditional offers - as Curnock Cook describes - at least three further steps exist: the screening of forms to select interviewees; selection interviews; and the collation of selection outcomes to arrive at informed decisions. This is time-consuming for applicants and for admissions and selection teams.

If applicants had to go through selection processes at each of their five choices, this would add up to a significant amount of time. Furthermore, for the growing number of mature applicants who have children, embarking on such processes over the summer holidays would be extremely disruptive.

Schwartz finds it curious that, as summer selection is already possible for clearing students, it is not possible for all. However, it is misleading to suggest that the volume of applicants dealt with at clearing is equivalent to the numbers handled in the main Universities and Colleges Admissions Service period.

Leslie Robinson, Retention and widening participation officer, School of Health, Sport and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Salford

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