Ucas tests training to aid admissions

July 15, 2005

Seventeen universities and colleges have signed up to trial a national training programme and qualification for admissions staff being developed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

The trial, which will take place next year, will focus on how to gather and assess evidence about candidates in the light of national policy.

Louise Aslett, manager of the Ucas continuing professional development outreach department, said: "Traditionally, staff receive training on the job by shadowing senior members of the team. The Ucas continuing professional development programme gives staff the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise and professionalism in an ever-changing environment. It will also act as currency when they seek promotion or a move to another institution."

Ucas has received financial support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to carry out the trial, which is intended to help staff make informed and fair decisions about candidates and to help institutions "achieve their intake targets" - such as widening participation across the social classes.

The training programme being developed is made up of 26 units that cover different aspects of student recruitment.

The programme will include training in interviewing skills and "communicating with applicants" as well as information about the Race Relations Act, the Disability Discrimination Act and the Data Protection Act.

Part of the programme will also cover fraud detection, how to approach "work-based learning and candidates with non-traditional qualifications", and "raising awareness of children in care".

Ms Aslett said: "There may be particular priorities on which institutions would wish to concentrate. With this in mind, and to avoid reinventing the wheel, Ucas will be drawing on the expertise of institutions to support the development of a central directory of materials and services to underpin the CPD programme and qualification."

A Ucas working group - including representatives from a number of institutions, including the universities of Wolverhampton, Surrey, Exeter, Warwick, Bolton and Northumbria - has been discussing how to develop a training programme since 2002.

Twelve introductory workshops, involving 150 delegates, have so far taken place to explain how the programme will work.

paul.hill@thes.co.uk

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