Admissions Consultation 2021

1. Introduction
The Department for Education has launched a consultation on undergraduate admissions, following the commitment from the government to level up the university admissions system. It denounces the current system as complex, lacking transparency, working against the interests of some students, and encouraging undesirable admissions practices (read unconditional offers).

This follows proposals by the Office for Students, UCAS and UUK last summer. The DfE, consultation is aimed principally at when students receive and accept university offers (not the wider assessment, admission or policy agendas) while claiming to preserve university and UCAS autonomy.

The consultation presents two options, both of which are predicated on exam results, not predictions. The first, "post-qualification applications and offers" resembles Direct Clearing as we know it. It creates a longer application window by moving results dates (not exams) forward to the end of July and higher education term dates back to the first week of October (by compressing the exam timetable, the marking period and the requirement for UCAS to receive results data well in advance of results day).

The second, "Pre-qualification applications with post-qualification offers and decisions" would mean applications being made during term-time as now but offers being made after results day.

DfE’s consultation closes on 13 May 2021. The EPC is running a full member consultation from 22nd March to 9th April to seek your views on the specific impact on engineering. For example, what might be operationally unworkable or conceivably undesirable for engineering? Or how could entrance assessments and/or interviews sometimes used in engineering be accommodated?

We feel it is important to critique the two models proposed separately in an engineering context. The full list of questions we are asking to inform the EPC response are attached. We do not intend to introduce the long and involved wider arguments in detail in order to make our collective engineering voice more focused and more valuable.
2. Model 1 - ‘Post-qualification applications and offers’ (PQA)

 
 
Model 1 - ‘Post-qualification applications and offers’ (PQA) has a longer application window created by moving results dates forward to the end of July and HE term dates back to the first week of October. (For further information on Model 1 under the consultation please see here.)

1. Thinking about your engineering courses specifically, what practical implementation difficulties do you envisage with the timing and management of admissions if the sector adopts a PQA model?


 




 

2. Would the impact of PQA on the following processes be an improvement to the current system? Please comment on engineering specific improvements or debilities in the appropriate box (leave blank if no comment).


BetterWorse
a. Decision-making
b. Entry tests, assessments or interviews
c. Available non-qualification information
d. HE resources planning
e. Information, advice and guidance
f. Professional discussion about career choices
g. Developing relationships
h. Visit opportunities
i. Tailored or general support to applicants
j. Pre-entry or summer remedial activities
k. Other, please detail
 




 

3. If PQA was introduced, what mitigations specific to entry to your engineering courses could be introduced to address any difficulties you've identified above?


 




 

4. In what ways might a PQA approach be fairer or less fair to applicants to your engineering courses?


FairerLess fair
a. All applicants
b. Disadvantaged applicants or groups
c. Applicants or groups underrepresented in engineering
d. Applicants with non-traditional qualifications
e. International applicants
f. Direct applicants (not through UCAS)
g. High/low attaining applicants
h. Students with disabilities, mental health issues or other special needs
i. Other
 

5. Overall, do you think a PQA model offers more or less equity at level 3?


More
Less
No significant improvement?
 




 

6. Overall, do you think a PQA model would be better than the current system, worse, or no significant improvement?


Better
Worse
No significant improvement
3. Model 2 - ‘Post-qualification applications with post-qualification offers and decisions’ (PQO)


 
 
Model 2 - ‘Pre-qualification applications with post-qualification offers and decisions’ (PQO) where applications are made during term-time (as now) but offers made after results day. (For further information on Model 2 under the consultation please see here.)

7. Thinking about your engineering courses specifically, what practical implementation difficulties do you envisage with the timing and management of admissions if the sector adopts a PQO model?


 




 

8. Would the impact of PQO on the following processes be an improvement to the current system? Please comment on engineering specific improvements or debilities in the appropriate box (leave blank if no comment).


BetterWorse
a. Decision-making
b. Entry tests, assessments or interviews
c. Available non-qualification information
d. HE resources planning
e. Information, advice and guidance
f. Professional discussion about career choices
g. Developing relationships
h. Visit opportunities
i. Tailored or general support to applicants
j. Pre-entry or summer remedial activities
k. Other, please detail
 




 

9. If PQO was introduced, what mitigations specific to entry to your engineering courses could be introduced to address any difficulties you've identified above?


 




 

10. In what ways might a PQO approach be fairer or less fair to applicants to your engineering courses?


FairerLess fair
a. All applicants
b. Disadvantaged applicants or groups
c. Applicants or groups underrepresented in engineering
d. Applicants with non-traditional qualifications
e. International applicants
f. Direct applicants (not through UCAS)
g. High/low attaining applicants
h. Students with disabilities, mental health issues or other special needs
i. Other
 

11. Overall, do you think a PQO model offers more or less equity at level 3?


More
Less
No significant improvement?
 




 

12. Overall, do you think a PQO model would be better than the current system, worse, or no significant improvement?


Better
Worse
No significant improvement
4. In summary
 

13. Would you, in principle, be in favour of changing the current Higher Education admissions system to a form of post-qualification admissions, where students would receive and accept university offers after they have received their A level (or equivalent) grades?


Yes
Yes, conditionally (please give details below)
No
Don't know
 




 

14. Should predicted grades be removed from the application process?


Yes
Yes, conditionally (please give details below)
No
Don't know
 




 

15. Should personal statements be removed from the application process?


Yes
Yes, conditionally (please give details below)
No
Don't know
 




 

16. Should references be removed from the application process?


Yes
Yes, conditionally (please give details below)
No
Don't know
 




 

17. Would you want to work with us to develop brief exemplar case studies of ongoing initiatives to level up admissions to engineering?


Yes
No