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mind your ps and qs professionalism and quality in admissions spa conference 10 june 2014

Mind your Ps and QsProfessionalism and Quality in AdmissionsSPA Conference, 10 June 2014

presentation shortcuts
Presentation shortcuts

Click on an image to jump to the relevant presentation, or anywhere else to progress in order

welcome to this spa conference
Welcome to this SPA conference

SPA promotes fair admissions and access to higher education in the UK by developing and leading on good practice in the recruitment and selection of students, to support HE providers.

  • SPA is an independent Programme, fully funded by the UK HE funding councils, UCAS and Universities UK, working with HE providers.
  • Our advice and support for universities and colleges is free, we charge a subsided amount for some events.
  • Small team of 6 with relevant practical and strategic experience
  • We undertake, evaluate and commission research to develop evidence based good practice to support professionalism in HE admissions throughout the UK
what is fair admissions
What is Fair Admissions?
  • be transparent
  • enable institutions to select students who are able to complete the course as judged by their achievements and their potential
  • strive to use assessment methods that are reliable and valid
  • seek to minimise barriers to applicants
  • be professional in every respect and underpinned by appropriate institutional structures and processes

“Equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of background, to gain admission to a course suited to their ability and aspirations.”

introduction
Introduction

Today’s set-up:

  • Sharing ideas, issues, intelligence
  • Openness and confidentiality
slide7

SPA's framework of good practice and professional admissionsDan Shaffer, Head of Professionalism in Admissions

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spa s good practice statements
SPA's good practice statements
  • SPA’s existing good practice statements are available on www.spa.ac.uk as a free resource
  • Helpful guidance for development and enhancement
  • Combined, they form a framework of good practice to support your admissions infrastructure
  • But:
    • viewed as standalone documents
    • sometimes difficult to navigate through them
    • Not always clear how to distil into more accessible points for other staff (e.g. executive advice; staff training)
  • We’re working on redeveloping our resources into a more supportive framework and toolkit
spa s framework
SPA's framework

SPA’s framework supports you as you build to bridge the gaps:

  • establishednew practice
  • current  new developments
  • new  experienced staff
  • you  external peers

Where’s your gap?

A framework of professionalism and quality standards gives reassurance your infrastructure is robust

slide10

OVERARCHING GOOD PRACTICE

SPECIFIC GOOD PRACTICE

STRATEGY

Admissions Policies

Complaints and Appeals

Feedback

Criminal Convictions

Timing of disability considerations

Age

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Principles of Fair Admissions

Planning and Managing Admissions

Contextualised admissions

Student Number Controls

Competence Standards

Applicant Experience Strategy

Admissions Tests

Vocational Qualifications

Native language Qualifications

Interviews

Effective Admissions Operation

Paperless Processing

Centralising Admissions

Equality Impact Assessments

Art and Design Admissions

Part-time Admissions

College HE Admissions

strategy
Strategy
  • Your admissions approach should be founded on your top-level institutional strategy:
    • mission statement and strategic/corporate plan should form the starting point.
  • Consider:
    • Statements/aims/proposals directly aimed at admissions
    • Points indirectly aimed at admissions

(particularly in adjacent work areas)

    • Points admissions may be able to support

(think creatively)

  • Plan how to meet, or even exceed.

STRATEGY

Principles of Fair Admissions

Applicant Experience Strategy

strategy principles of fair admissions
Strategy – Principles of fair admissions
  • A commitment to fair admissions should be embedded within all admissions activity.
  • It is therefore important in your analysis to check all your policies, procedures and practices against the five key principles of fair admissions.
  • Where an aspect of admissions does not meet these principles, seek improvements.
  • Ensure colleagues understand and uphold these principles.

STRATEGY

Principles of Fair Admissions

Applicant Experience Strategy

strategy principles of fair admissions1
Strategy – Principles of fair admissions

A fair admissions system should:

  • be transparent
  • enable institutions to select students who are able to complete the course as judged by their achievements and their potential
  • strive to use assessment methods that are reliable and valid
  • seek to minimise barriers to applicants
  • be professional in every respect and underpinned by appropriate institutional structures and processes

STRATEGY

“Equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of background, to gain admission to a course suited to their ability and aspirations.”

Principles of Fair Admissions

Applicant Experience Strategy

strategy the applicant experience
Strategy - the applicant experience
  • The applicant experience encompasses all opportunities or points of interaction between higher education and a potential student.
  • Managing those interactions requires integrated practice across all involved, leading to a more predictable transition into higher education.
  • It will aid your analysis by helping you strategically map all the different activities and disparate teams involved in aspects of admissions.
  • Decide how your analysis is co-ordinated with and communicated to all those areas.

STRATEGY

Principles of Fair Admissions

Applicant Experience Strategy

strategy the applicant experience1
Strategy - the applicant experience

Built under four broad stages

Adopted a behavioural view of ‘experience’

Interactive participation and engagement,

not a passive journey

STRATEGY

pre-application

application

post-application

transition

Principles of Fair Admissions

Applicant Experience Strategy

slide16

OVERARCHING GOOD PRACTICE

SPECIFIC GOOD PRACTICE

Workshops will each focus on a different aspect of the overarching good practice infrastructure.

Focussing on that aspect, keep in mind:

  • Where’s my gap and how can it be bridged?
  • How can I meet/exceed strategic aims?
  • Are principles of fair admissions supported?
  • Are we integrated across all stages of the applicant experience?

STRATEGY

Admissions Policies

Complaints and Appeals

Feedback

Criminal Convictions

Timing of disability considerations

Age

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Principles of Fair Admissions

Planning and Managing Admissions

Contextualised admissions

Student Number Controls

Competence Standards

Applicant Experience Strategy

Admissions Tests

Vocational Qualifications

Native language Qualifications

Interviews

Effective Admissions Operation

Paperless Processing

Centralising Admissions

Equality Impact Assessments

Art and Design Admissions

Part-time Admissions

College HE Admissions

workshops
WORKSHOPS

Admissions Policies

(Peter Chetwynd)

Planning and Managing Admissions

(Dan Shaffer)

Effective Admissions Operation

(Janet Graham)

Admissions Policies

Planning and Managing Admissions

Effective Admissions Operation

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slide18

The Admissions Infrastructure: Admissions PoliciesMind your Ps and Qs - Professionalism and Quality in Admissions, 4 June 2014Peter Chetwynd, SPA Admissions Support and Development Manager

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why is your admissions policy important
Why is your admissions policy important?
  • To ensure that your institution’s mission and values are reflected in your admissions practice and your interactions with applicants
applicant experience strategy map
Applicant experience strategy map

institution mission and values

strategic aims

policies

pre-application

application

post-application

transition

key interactions

key interactions

key interactions

key interactions

monitor

measure

linking interactions

linking interactions

linking interactions

integrated practitioner groups/communities

enablers – staff, systems, funds

why is your admissions policy important1
Why is your admissions policy important?
  • To ensure that your institution’s mission and values are reflected in your admissions practice and your interactions with applicants
  • To support staff professionalism and coherent practice across your institution through a definitive source for policy and procedure
  • To facilitate measuring and monitoring
  • To promote transparency in all aspects of recruitment, selection and admissions
  • Because the QAA says so …
because the qaa says so
Because the QAA says so …

  • Recruitment, selection and admission policies and procedures adhere to the principles of fair admission. They are transparent, reliable, valid, inclusive and underpinned by appropriate organisational structures and processes. They support higher education providers in the selection of students who are able to complete their programme.
because the qaa says so1
Because the QAA says so …

Policies and procedures for recruitment, selection and admission are clear and explicit. They articulate the values underpinning the provider’s processes and clarify where authority and responsibility for each stage lies. ...

Higher education providers ensure that those involved with recruitment, selection and admission are familiar with policies and procedures and can access them easily.

why is your admissions policy important2
Why is your admissions policy important?
  • To ensure that your institution’s mission and values are reflected in your admissions practice and your interactions with applicants
  • To support staff professionalism and coherent practice across your institution through a definitive source for policy and procedure
  • To facilitate measuring and monitoring
  • To promote transparency in all aspects of selection, recruitment and admissions
  • Because the QAA says so…
  • To demonstrate your institution’s compliance with and commitment to the QAA Quality Code, legal/statutory obligations, the principles of fair admissions, good practice etc.
what goes in the admissions policy
What goes in the admissions policy?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Core policy should be accessible to all
  • All-in-one document or separate admissions policy document and procedure handbook?
  • Good practice to harmonise devolved procedures
  • Clear IAG for applicants is vital in additionto policy documents

Core admissions policy

Step-by-step procedural

detail

Descriptions of staff roles/ responsibilities

Information for applicants and advisors

Institutional good practice statements

the admissions infrastructure admissions policies
The Admissions Infrastructure: Admissions Policies

Time to share your views on developing, reviewing and improving professionalism …

  • What are the key considerations for admissions policies?
slide32
Thank youYour feedback is welcomedMore information from: enquiries@spa.ac.uk or 01242 544891www.spa.ac.uk
planning and managing a dmissions dan shaffer head of professionalism in admissions

Planning and Managing AdmissionsDan Shaffer, Head of Professionalism in Admissions

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planning and managing admissions
Planning and managing admissions
  • Good practice is about being prepared, ensuring your approach is consistent.
  • Your capacity to plan ahead, predict activity and have contingencies in place is the best way of ensuring you have control over your admissions function.
  • SPA’s resources will help you manage your student intake, including planning your entry criteria and offer-making strategies.
  • Additional resources focus specifically upon planning for Confirmation.

www.spa.ac.uk/support/goodpractice/planningandmanaginga

planning and managing admissions1
Planning and managing admissions

be ready

keep up to date

overview

review

collaboration

enact

predict

planning and managing admissions2
Planning and managing admissions

Sharing views on developing, reviewing and improving professionalism

What are the key considerations?

slide37

The Admissions Infrastructure: Effective Admissions OperationMind your Ps and Qs - Professionalism and Quality in Admissions, 4 June 2014Janet Graham, Director of SPA

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fair admissions
Fair Admissions
  • Admissions are the responsibility of universities and colleges themselves, and rightly so.
  • Institutions should be able to set their own criteria, choose their own assessment methods, and select their own students.
  • But it is important that everyone has confidence in the integrity of the admissions process.
  • Access to higher education matters to many people, and so do fair admissions.
  • Source: Schwartz Report : Fair admissions Recommendations for HE 2004

“Equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of background, to gain admission to a course suited to their ability and aspirations.”

why is the effective admission operation important
Why is the effective admission operation important?

To support fair admissionsin recruitment, selection and admissions and to meet the strategic vision on the HE provider

  • Recruitment, selection and admission policies and procedures adhere to the principles of fair admission. They are transparent, reliable, valid, inclusive and underpinned by appropriate organisational structures and processes.
  • HE providers need an effectiveadmissions operation to enable the selection of students who are able to complete their programme.
why is a good applicant experience important
Why is a good applicant experience important?
    • It is a part of the student experience:
  • A student’s experience of university does not begin at the moment they step onto campus at the beginning of October … The early relationship between student and university is important during the applications and admissions process, in preparing students for university life, and to initiate their engagement with and attitudes towards their university in the best way possible. A student’s experience of university can stretch back even further through effective HE engagement with schools and colleges.
  • — Enhancing the Student Experience, 1994 Group (2007)
what is the applicant experience
What is the applicant experience?

pre-application

application

post-application

transition

  • Adopting a behavioural view of ‘experience’
    • Applicants are not passive passengers
    • HE providers are more than just destinations
  • Linked and underpinned by effective, quality interactions
  • informing
  • advising
  • guiding
applicant experience strategy map1

institution mission and values

strategic aims

policies

pre-application

application

post-application

transition

key interactions

key interactions

key interactions

key interactions

monitor

measure

linking interactions

linking interactions

linking interactions

integrated practitioner groups/communities

enablers – staff, systems, funds

Applicant Experience Strategy Map
the effective admissions operation
The effective admissions operation
    • So those involved in an effective admissions operation
      • Are clear how it fits into the overall strategy and mission of the HEP
      • Keep those who needs to know about and manage the admissions operation aware of issues and what is happening
      • Understand how the admissions operation is structured and how the different functions within it operate
      • Are willing and able to work with other linked teams on particular projects or aspects of admissions for the greater good of the HEP and not just the admissions office
  • Changing fast as HEIs seek to restructure to meet the needs of increasingly competitive environment and new ways of working, its not the structure alone that makes the operation effective it’s the staff.
strategy effective admissions operation
Strategy – effective admissions operation
  • How your admissions function is structured will impact upon its efficiency, fairness and transparency.
  • SPA’s evidence base covers a wide range of HE providers and gives examples of the different ways in which admissions offices are organised.
  • SPA’s evidence base and recommendations will help you analyse and compare your own admissions operation with other approaches, to decide how best to deliver admissions within the context of your own institution.
the integrated approach
The Integrated approach
  • Two HEPs may both have a section called ‘Recruitment and Admissions’ but they may have different areas of responsibility and are likely to operate very differently.
  • ‘Integrated’ could mean for example
    • being in the same overall area (e.g. UG and PG Admissions) and reporting to the same manager or
    • being part of the same office, with staff doing both core admissions and outreach (or other functions)
  • An integrated model, where functions including admissions, widening inclusion and student recruitment (or other functions) are co-located, both physically and strategically, may make for a better informed service
planning targets and managing students numbers
Planning, targets and managing students numbers
  • Over the last two years SPA is aware of an increasing number of HEPs initiating a review of effective admissions operations, initially in England as a result of the introduction of SNC and now due to the removal of the SNC!
  • In Scotland this has also been due to external policy changes including the increased emphasis by the funding council on widening access for Scottish students and contextualised admissions
  • In all areas of the UK there is a more complex pattern of external policy drivers, from qualification changes, to the demographic downturn, the desire for a unique selling point or ‘distinctiveness’ in each provider and increased competition for the ‘best’ students
  • All HEPs are seeing an increased emphasis by senior managers on planning and managing numbers admitted.
communications and marketing
Communications and Marketing
  • Increasingly marketing and communications are working more closely with admissions and student recruitment in traditional and new areas
  • Communications staff may deal with external facing activities including publications layout and technical aspects of the website, and increasingly with CRM systems, social media, blogs etc seeking admissions input when needed
  • In other models responsibility for editorial control of the prospectus and admissions leaflets/newsletters/brochures sits within the admissions office but individual academic departments are responsible for their own sections of publications and their pages of the website.
  • Clear and open communication channels internally are needed, so all staff are aware of their responsibilities, deadlines and peak periods of work both in their own areas and in others.
confirmation and clearing arrangements
Confirmation and Clearing arrangements
  • HEPs approaches vary; some functions are devolved to academic departments or schools while others (increasingly) operate a completely centralised function.
  • The approach will be dependent on many factors including the external policy environment, the HEP’s recruitment targets and the split between ‘selecting’ and ‘recruiting’ courses at the institution.
  • Sophisticated arrangements for Clearing: Admissions work closely with planning and marketing e.g. on data analysis, modelling, advertising, target management. Additional trained staff manage the HEP’s Clearing hotline, freeing up experienced staff to deal with more complex enquiries.
  • SPA recommends that HEIs should not have complete reliance on one piece of technology or one person to help run and manage their Clearing processes, and should have effective contingency plans in place
which approach is best
Which approach is best?
  • In SPA’s experience has been rare for an HEP to group together planning, admissions, widening inclusion, student recruitment, marketing and communications.
  • HEPs however should at least consider the effectiveness of such a model within their own contexts, given the importance of relationships between departments with cross-over functions and interests.
  • Good practice has been demonstrated when at least admissions and recruitment staff report ultimately to the same person at the highest level (Pro-VC, Vice-Principal or equivalent).
  • The best approach is one that fits with the HEP strategic aims and vision after considering the options available
centralised devolved or mixed the national picture
Centralised, devolved or mixed – the national picture
  • ‘Centralised’ would be a system where all aspects of admissions are handled by teams that have direct line management accountability to the institutional executive.
  • ‘Devolved’ would be defined by primary accountability on departmental or faculty lines.
  • However, in practice few, if any admission structures work to such pure terms, and a number have a mixed approach.
centralised
Centralised
  • Selection criteria will need to be reviewed annually, analysing previous cycle’s selection policy to identify how effective this was in practice and any issues and inconsistencies which were raised during the year, plus any external policy changes (e.g. on number controls, qualifications etc) or process changes (e.g. at UCAS).
  • Selection criteria will be agreed with academic staff before or at the start of each new admissions cycle
  • Crucial to this will be the use of reliable, quantitative and qualitative data to review the correlation between applicant and student performance. Tracking and monitoring are essential
centralised1
Centralised
  • Consideration will need to be given to how administrative staff roles can be structured in the most effective way.
  • Some HEIs identify staff who have affinity for certain subject areas and in some cases experience of the profession e.g. the NHS for Nursing and Midwifery courses, as this could lead to a greater understanding and depth of knowledge of the skills and attributes required for these courses.
  • Other HEIs have cited a preference for a more generalist approach to enable flexibility between subject areas and staff members, to cover for absences, ensure staff are readily able to offer help at peak times and to lessen the risk to the HEI in having a significant amount of specific knowledge invested in only one person.
indicative trends in shifting admissions structures
Indicative trends in shifting admissions structures

centralised

mixed

devolved

2010 cycle

2013 cycle

Source: SPA surveys of providers 2010 and 2013

service level agreements
Service Level Agreements
  • These could be ‘formal’ or more informal agreements covering:
    • First filter selection mechanisms and/or flagging of applicants
    • Turnaround times on admissions decision making
    • Decision making based on criteria agreed with academic staff in advance
    • Interview administration
  • Other admissions offices will have responsibility for all aspects of the admissions operation, normally other than conducting the interview and making the decision.
  • All are legitimate and it is the decision of each individual HEP to determine which is most appropriate for them.
staffing what do you need for an effective admissions operation
Staffing: What do you need for an effective admissions operation?
  • From the SPA team’s experience and from our evidence base of HEIs’ practice, there are a number of specific job roles highlighted as beneficial either:
  • as part of the established structure of the admissions office staff;
  • access to at certain key times of the admissions cycle.
  • These are in addition to roles such as admissions decision processing, enquiries, reviewing qualifications etc. and include
  • Admissions Data Analyst
  • Admissions Web specialist
  • Admissions IT specialist
staff briefing development and progression
Staff briefing, development and progression
  • This can include
    • Regular (e.g, monthly) meetings of the team
    • Annual updates of policy and procedures followed by staff briefings
    • If for example moving from a devolved to a more centralised process model, the staff training and development to support staff lacking confidence with significant change which is out of their comfort zone - needs to be carefully managed, to ensure the service remains effective.
    • Projects in admissions e.g, going paperless, or reviewing entry qualifications
  • The time required to ensure staff are appropriately trained should not be underestimated.
  • Well-inducted and well-trained staff are arguably an institution’s greatest resource.
risk factors for different admissions structures
Risk factors for different admissions structures

Plan additional support procedures and training for the greatest risks.

resource requirements
Resource requirements
  • SPA has been asked to define ‘industry or optimum standards’ for resources required for an effective admissions operation as a baseline for undergraduate admissions staffing. Will we do it? No
  • Why not?
  • Differences between centralised, devolved and mixed and the functions staff carry out under these make this difficult to do and meaningless, it has to be institution specific
  • SPA encourages HEIs to consider resource requirements in relation to their operating principles and strategic priorities  
benefits of integrated strategy and operation
Benefits of integrated strategy and operation
  • Strategic leadership in admissions is integral to learning and teaching strategy, management and planning
  • An effective admissions operation and applicant experience strategy underpins the student experience, and supports the management and processes of both academic and professional staff, leading to:
    • more integrated ways of working, with possible efficiency gains
    • enhanced staff professionalism and understanding of strategy
    • high quality practices and procedures that may give competitive advantage, enhance reputation and aid retention
    • ability to take advantage of external changes quickly
workshop activity
Workshop activity
  • Everyone can make a meaningful contribution to what makes an effective admissions operation and a successful admissions review
  • What SIX key considerations can we share with the rest of the conference with regard to an effective admissions operation?
slide62

Thank youGood practice document is under support on our website at: www.spa.ac.uk/support/goodpractice/effectiveadmissionsoMore information from: enquiries@spa.ac.uk or 01242 544891www.spa.ac.uk

workshop activity1
Workshop activity
  • Think about key interactions, linkages and internal communications with groups or individuals in the HE provider (HEP) for smarter working. Who do you need to work closely with for an effective admissions operation?
    • Student Recruitment, Schools and College Liaison, WP
    • Marketing and communications
    • Planning
    • IT, data analysis and reporting, student records
    • International recruitment and admissions staff
    • Teaching and learning, academic staff
    • Partner institutions
    • Senior managers ………and?