Post-result application plan gets short shrift from staff

April 30, 1999

New admissions procedures where students apply to university once they have their A-level results would be "unworkable", bring few benefits to applicants or universities and seriously cut staff research time, it is claimed.

Regional groups, made up of universities, colleges, schools and students, will be consulted over the next few months on a proposed post-qualification university admissions model drawn up by a steering group led by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals.

The scheme would involve A-level students making an initial expression of interest to four institutions in the early spring, after which they could be interviewed or make visits. But they would apply formally to three institutions only once they had their results in early August. Applicants and universities, which would rank the students who had expressed interest, would then be matched electronically in a matter of days.

But initial feedback suggests the proposals may not go down well in some universities. One university admissions coordinator said the system did not look workable and that little time would be left for students to sort out accommodation or financial support. "It is not a true post-qualification system because students will have to put forward expressions of interest. It is likely to involve duplication of effort and would be hard for a university to plan."

Another admissions tutor noted that the scheme would affect applicants from overseas, who have to know before August if they have been offered a place. "As departments depend increasingly on an international contingent in their student bodies, the system would prove unworkable for applicants from overseas, and financially destructive to the departments concerned," he said.

He added that the scheme would detract from available research time, with admissions tutors needing to make key decisions in March, May, July and August. "In this way, admissions tutors would be expected to focus their attentions on admissions administration throughout the spring and summer of each year," he said. "Key research time would be almost entirely consumed with administrative tasks. Admission tutors' output, and thus invaluable research income, would be lost."

A spokesman for the CVCP said the model was being discussed regionally through the UCAS network over the next few months and was at a pre-consultation stage.

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