well independently, motivation to learn, interest
in the subject area, and good self-organisation
are key criteria for degree success, a recent
study has found. The University of Leeds was
one of six HEIs to take part in the UUK commissioned
study Fair Enough?, which looked at
ways to improve the offer decisions made by
admissions tutors and make the process more
fair and transparent.
It's a key objective that universities
like Leeds enable more students from disadvantaged
backgrounds to gain a place, said Professor
Richard Taylor from continuing education,
who sat on the studys steering group.
We need to find ways of identifying
students who have real potential but, because
of their social background and educational
experiences, may not have attained the standard
entry grades. This project has helped to develop
ways in which admissions tutors can make more
informed choices, not based entirely upon
'A' level grades.
The criteria identified by the study could
help to ensure schemes targeting non-traditional
applicants are fair and objective, inform
admissions tutors choices when lots
of applicants meet the entry level, provide
a framework for interviews and improve admissions
decisions post results and during clearing,
the UUK report claims.
At Leeds, modern languages, philosophy and
physics took part in the study. The report
found some resistance to differential offers,
saying there was a widely held belief
that A level points were linked to degree
performance, despite University research
to the contrary (see below). However, the
project has already helped raise awareness
over the issue.
Working with the project made
us think about how we measure the future potential
of applicants, said head of widening
participation, Ceri Nursaw. We have
many intiatives under way to ensure a fair
and open application system, including a new
Access to Leeds scheme targeting non-traditional
applicants from Leeds and Wakefield, who are
made alternative offers, but must complete
a study skills course and a piece of assessed
work in their discipline.
The findings of the study are outlined in
a report Fair Enough? Wider access
to university by identifying potential to
succeed which can be found on the
UUK web pages.
Students with low or no A levels can perform
just as well at university as those with 3
As, according to research by the universities
of Leeds and Kent. Professor of computing,
Roger Boyle, continuing education lecturer
Martyn Clark, and Janet Carter from the University
of Kent looked at single honours computing
students in both universities 149 with
A levels and 61 with non-traditional qualifications
such as GNVQs or foundation and access courses.
In comparisons between non-traditional and
traditional students, both performed to the
same average level at first-year and third-year
level. Among students with A levels, those
with 24 points or more showed a stronger performance
in the first year, but this advantage had
disappeared by the end of their course causing
entry score to have very little influence
on final degree.
It is tempting to see the 30-pointer
and their three As as the highest prize in
undergraduate recruitment, said Professor
Boyle. Our research shows that jewels
might have much humbler origins and all new
students are justified in having the same
academic expectations of success and graduation.