Task group set up to solve admissions confusion

10th June 2011 at 01:00
Universities Scotland to address concerns raised by heads

Scottish university leaders have set up a task group in an attempt to clear up the confusion over admission to universities.

Universities Scotland's short-life working group on the "flexible learner journey" is expected to report by December on a number of concerns that have been raised by secondary schools.

These include universities' admissions policies on the status of Highers achieved over two or even three years compared to the more traditional one year.

The expert body is also expected to examine proposals that more students with Scottish Baccalaureates and Advanced Highers could gain direct entry into second year of university.

Some universities say they will treat all Highers equally; others say that where high-tariff courses are over-subscribed, they will give preference to those who have achieved all their Highers in a single sitting and over one year.

Secondary heads have called for more clarity as they begin to plan for the senior phase under Curriculum for Excellence.

Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, said: "Secondary heads are worried. They don't want to disadvantage their students in any way."

Grant Jarvie, deputy principal of Stirling University and Universities Scotland's representative on the Curriculum for Excellence management board, will chair the task group.

He told TESS a lot of very good work was already going on between universities, further education colleges and schools, but Universities Scotland wanted to carry out a specific piece of work on the "flexible learner journey".

Over the coming months, the group is expected to take evidence from admissions directors and university secretaries, together with representatives of the secondary and FE sectors, on admissions policies, progression routes under the new national qualifications, transitions between the sectors and how higher education can tailor its teaching and match its curriculum to CfE.

Universities Scotland was also working closely with the admissions body Ucas to ensure students entering the CfE senior phase are treated equally under admissions policies, he said.

Mr Cunningham said the move was vital for a number of reasons: the recent CfE management board's guidance on implementation of the senior phase; schools' need for clarity on admissions policies regarding Highers; students with experience of CfE at school will have similar expectations once they reach university; and the impact of higher education funding pressures.



Universities Scotland last year published a report, Together at the Heart of Scottish Education, describing the engagement between schools and universities, including:

Aberdeen University: S6@Uni, which supports schools by offering Advanced Higher courses;

Open University in Scotland: Young Applicants in Schools Scheme allows S6 pupils to choose from a range of level 1 undergraduate modules and courses;

Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh: Scholar is one of the largest online learning resources in the world; with over 100,000 students registered, it supports 30 Higher and Advanced Higher courses;

Glasgow University: "twilight" classes in the practical aspects of their Advanced Higher chemistry, physics and biology courses.

Original headline: Task group set up to solve confusion over admissions

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