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Higher Education: Admissions

Volume 477: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many universities require candidates for admission to undergraduate courses to sit an aptitude test; what his Department’s policy is on the matter; and if he will make a statement. (210515)

HE admissions, including the use of entrance tests, are a matter for higher education institutions themselves. The Government do not have the power to direct institutions in the use of tests nor do they hold data centrally on admissions tests.

The number and range of entrance tests has, however, recently been the subject of research by the Supporting Professionalism in Admissions programme of work, who found that a relatively small number of institutions use tests (14 per cent.) and only 0.43 per cent. of courses in the UCAS scheme—there has not been a great burgeoning in usage.

It is a fundamental principle that universities should decide whom they should admit. It is important, however, that universities are open, clear and transparent about their admissions systems and policies.

We do not want to see a proliferation of admissions tests for tests sake. We would be concerned if additional tests were to impose burdens that particularly affect applicants from under-represented groups and or schools that are less familiar with preparing leavers for higher education.