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International Perspectives on Higher Education Admission Policy

A Reader


Edited By Virginia Stead

The promise of this admission policy reader arises from the embodiment of research from 58 authors, six continents, 20 time zones, 20+ first languages, and a broad array of research methodologies. Four sections aggregate key themes within the text:
(1) National Perspectives on Higher Education Admission Policy;
(2) Theoretical Approaches to Higher Education Admission Policy;
(3) Applicant Recruitment and Student Support Services in Higher Education; and
(4) Diversity and Equity in Higher Education Admission Policy Implementation.
This book's global chorus of professional experience, investigation, and insight is unprecedented in its breadth and depth, illuminating a rare swath of challenges and opportunities that Internet-sourced international higher education makes visible. Although each chapter is an independent research report, together they generate a new landscape for admission policy orientation, exploration, and activism. The sheer range of policies and organizational infrastructure will alert all readers to many complexities within the admissions process that remain invisible within single or multiple but similar cultural and political contexts.
Many of these authors have demonstrated courage along with their intellectual acumen in tackling politically sensitive, culturally taboo, and personally dangerous topics within their research. Theirs is a moving testimony to the global quest for fairness within the world of admission policy implementation and to the power of access to higher education. Together, we are determined to advance equitable admissions praxis within all institutions of higher learning and promising futures for all students.
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14 Who Is the Best Candidate? Selecting Students in Competitive UK Admissions Contexts


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Who Is the Best Candidate?

Selecting Students in Competitive UK Admissions Contexts

Anna Mountford-Zimdars


The aim of this contribution is to describe and discuss some of the complexities of admitting undergraduate students to academic university courses within highly competitive admissions contexts. Higher education is a desirable good and, in stratified higher education systems, students’ demand for attending the most prestigious universities outstrips the supply of available places both for undergraduate and for postgraduate study. In such contexts, higher education institutions make decisions whereby some students are selected for admission and given the opportunity to participate in this desirable form of higher education while other applicants are unsuccessful and may enrol at slightly less prestigious institutions.

This context raises three related questions: On a normative level, we want to know, “Who should be admitted?” This requires considerations of philosophical ideas of worth and virtue; the aim of universities as institutions and as players in civic society; and attention to different national and institutional contexts for private and public universities. The second question, “Who is actually admitted?” requires an empirical answer. Finally, the third question asks, “How can we change admissions processes from the way they are currently practiced?” This concerns admissions practices and an evaluation of whether the aim of certain admissions policies—such as increasing enrolment of students from disadvantaged backgrounds—results in the intended outcomes.

This chapter reviews discussions...

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