UUK Unfolds Recommendations on Fair & Transparent University Admissions

Universities UK (UUK) has published its Fair Admissions Review recommendations on Friday, November 13, 2020, which aim to level up the transparency, trust and public understanding in university admission systems.

The 18-month review which was launched in June 2019, has made a complete analysis of the evidence, taking into account the polling and consultation with schools, colleges, employers, students including the recent graduates, and other groups involved in the education sector, Erudera College News reports.

In a press release, UUK points out that the Fair Admission Review which was conducted by the school, college, university and UCAS leaders, has recommended updating the 2004 Schwartz principles on transparent and fair university admissions, in an effort to clarify that students’ interests should be the most important.

“The review recommends that ‘conditional unconditional offers’ – which assure an applicant of a university place irrespective of their final grades, on the proviso the university is their firm choice – are not always in the best interests of students, and so do not meet the revised principles,” the press release reads.

Unconditional offers which are the offers that students receive when they fulfil the criteria for a college or university place are appropriate in specific circumstances where applicants already possess the required grades, including:

  • Those who apply to courses where decisions have been announced by an interview, audition or additional application procedures
  • Those applying to pursue studies at universities or colleges with an established policy on non-selective admissions to undergraduate programs
  • Those who ask for consideration due to illness or disabilities

According to the professor Quintin McKellar CBE, who is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, Universities UK’s Vice-President for England and Northern Ireland, and Chair of the Fair Admissions Review, there is willingness across the education sector to make sure that the admissions are fair for all students.

“On the whole university admissions are seen as fair, but the principles guiding universities should be updated to make it clear that offer-making and practices must always operate in the best interests of students. This means there should be no place for the use of conditional, unconditional offers because they can put students under undue pressure,” he said.

Whereas, the Chief Executive of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis, said that universities have autonomy over their admissions rules which is associated with responsibilities on review and evolution of practices as well as to address the concerns.

“These recommendations are a sector-led set of reforms built on evidence from applicants, schools, universities, colleges and UCAS that will lead to a fairer and more transparent admissions system,” he said.

The Fair Admissions Review suggests that universities should only offer the place to a student when the test results are known, which could lead to more transparency and trust in the admission processes.

The review, among others, suggests making the information that is more consistent publicly available by providers for the use of contextual admissions, to grow further social mobility and increase the opportunities.

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