Admissions policy is not a pretty sight

3rd December 2010 at 00:00

Every university claims to be trying to operate a fair and transparent admissions policy, but this is not always obvious to the applicant or school. Good practice has been disseminated, and there are definite areas where there have been substantial gains (for example, entry profiles and feedback to unsuccessful candidates).

But this good practice is neither universally nor consistently applied - not even within some universities, let alone across all of them. Universities are independent institutions and have the right to make decisions and choices. However, the treatment of applicants and the suddenly increased requirements of Glasgow University, as you reported on November 5, have been unacceptable and damaging to their reputation.

In his letter (November 19), its vice-principal, Frank Coton, denied that the university raised entry requirements during the applications cycle. Yet, schools received a letter on November 4, 2009, increasing entry requirements for arts, science and social science degrees for 2010 entry.

This was despite the fact that pupils had received different information at open days prior to that date and were led to believe that the printed entry requirements were still valid. Since Ucas applications open in June and close the following January, where does November 4 fall except during the application cycle?

Granted, this year, early notification was received in August, but it represented yet another increase in requirements to four or five A grades at Higher in one sitting for all courses. Undoubtedly, this has had a detrimental effect on many applicants, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds who may not attend one of the schools Glasgow University currently works with to raise participation levels. How can it be otherwise when there has been such an escalation of requirements?

As a proud graduate of Glasgow University (who would not now qualify for entry), I find it disheartening and very disappointing that applicants have been treated in this way. Fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and, from our perspective, it is not a pretty sight.

Brian Cooklin, headteacher, Stonelaw High, Rutherglen.

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