Minister calls for 'transparency' in admissions

April 10, 2008

Universities will have to submit "transparent" admissions and widening participation policies to the Office for Fair Access, Universities Secretary John Denham has announced.

A published document for each university will need to show the measures in place to help ensure accurate and fair policies.

Mr Denham told the Higher Education Funding Council for England's annual conference that admissions procedures were "only part of a whole series of decisions" that led someone to a university place, but dominated media discussion on fair access.

The debate could be "pretty poisonous" and corroded public confidence in the system. "The answer lies ... in openness, transparency and accountability," he said.

Mr Denham said he believed "the time is right to bring together higher education institutions' widening participation and fair access policies, including a transparent admissions system, into a single document ... The purpose is very simple. It is not to impose a new burden without a reason. The prize is to take some of the heat out of the recurrent controversy over admissions".

He also reaffirmed the Government's commitment to its 50 per cent university participation target for under-thirties, and said Lord Leitch's target of a 40 per cent graduate working-age population was looking "under rather than overambitious".

On postqualification admissions, he said that "in an ideal world, students and universities would prefer to consider applications in the light of real exam results".

He also announced reviews examining part-time learning, progression from further to higher education, and universities' efforts to help schools raise attainment in science and maths.

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com.

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