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The selection of potential undergraduate students who lack customary academic qualifications : is a toolkit possible?

Moreton, I.S. and Newton, D.P. and Newton, L.D. and Mathias, J. (2017) 'The selection of potential undergraduate students who lack customary academic qualifications : is a toolkit possible?', Widening participation and lifelong learning., 19 (3). pp. 64-84.


Widening participation in higher education is now seen as desirable in much of the West, if only for its economic benefits. It can, however, present problems for admissions tutors as applicants can vary widely in age and experience, and may lack conventional educational qualifications and material evidence of their potential for success. This study focused on the selection of students for a one-year, university-based, foundation course aimed at preparing students with diverse backgrounds for undergraduate study in a variety of disciplines. The aim was to consider the potential of 'non-cognitive attributes' in the selection process, and reflect on their inclusion (with caveats) in selection toolkits (assortments of ways used to identify students for admission). To that end, information was collected from research literature, the views of foundation studies tutors, potential students, existing students, and from correlates between various attributes and examination attainment. It was concluded that a single toolkit could not do justice to the applicants' variety. Instead, a toolbox and a choice of tools to reflect the age, gender, and target discipline would be better. Furthermore, it could strengthen decisions if admissions tutors were supported by teachers of the discipline concerned, in order to draw on their implicit discipline knowledge.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:© Moreton, Ian S.; Newton, Douglas P.; Newton, Lynn D.; Mathias, J. 2017. The definitive, peer reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, Volume 19, Number 3, November 2017, pp. 64-84, DOI:
Date accepted:19 August 2017
Date deposited:20 September 2017
Date of first online publication:01 November 2017
Date first made open access:01 May 2019

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