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Admission to Taught Postgraduate Courses

. Introduction

A centralised system for the processing of applications for admission to postgraduate taught courses is operated through the Admissions Office. The Office processes applications for the majority of taught postgraduate courses and conveys formal decisions to candidates. Exceptions are the Certificate in Professional Legal Studies in the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, the majority of taught courses in the School of Education and taught courses in the School of Psychology.

Detailed guidance notes for selectors and others involved in handling applications are prepared by the Admissions Office and circulated through school managers. They are asked to ensure that all relevant staff are familiar with the contents.


2. Making Application

2.1 All candidates for postgraduate taught courses must complete the appropriate University application form. The form is accompanied by detailed guidance notes containing information about the various stages in the application procedure, fees, accommodation, sources of financial support and other relevant matters. Application forms and guidance notes can be obtained from the Admissions Office or from its website.

These procedures also apply to occasional students coming to the University for less than one academic year to undertake study on a non-credit-earning basis.

Exceptions to the above are as follows:

• Postgraduate Certificate in Education ?available from the School of Education

• Certificate in Professional Legal Studies ?available from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies

• Taught courses in Psychology ?available from the School of Psychology

2.2 A separate application form is required for each course and the completed forms should be returned to the Admissions Office where they are date- stamped.

2.3 A working group has been established whose brief is to introduce a web-based system for postgraduate applications and it is hoped that this will be in place for the next admissions cycle (2007 entry). A pilot scheme for combined postgraduate research and award applications only was introduced in February 2006. However, it is expected that the web-based and paper-based systems will operate in parallel, at least for the next academic year. It is hoped that the latter will represent a very small proportion and candidates will be encouraged to make application online. The courses listed in paragraph 2.1 as exceptions will retain their current arrangements for the 2006-07 admissions cycle.


3. Closing Dates

2.1 The normal closing date for applications for both full-time and part-time study is 1 April, except for the courses listed in paragraph 2.1. Full details are contained in the guidance notes which accompany the application forms.

2.2 Late applications may be considered at the discretion of schools, if vacancies exist, and courses may be re-advertised after the closing date if there are insufficient applications.

3.3 The Admissions Office does not reject late applications unless instructed to do so by a school.


4. Processing of applications

3.1 Application forms received manually are coded by the Admissions Office and the computer record created in the non-UCAS Admissions System. The forms are then sent to school managers or their nominees to be forwarded to academic selectors for decisions. The computer records are updated at the various stages of the application process as outlined below.

4.2 When the web-based system becomes operational, the record will be created automatically in the non-UCAS Admissions System by the candidate when submitting the application. Applications will then be transmitted electronically to schools for decisions and returned either electronically or in hard copy to the Admissions Office for decision letters.

4.3 Criminal convictions

If a criminal conviction has been declared, the Admissions Office contacts the candidate in accordance with the University regulations. These are currently under review but will be available in the near future from the Admissions Office.

4.4 Disabilities/special needs

If a disability is declared, it is highlighted and the form processed in the normal way. In the event of an offer being made, the Admissions Office encloses with the offer letter a questionnaire provided by the Disability Services Unit.


5. Criteria for admission

4.1 The attention of course selectors is drawn to the new QAA Guidelines for the admission of postgraduate research students. While these do not apply to applications for taught courses, they do provide an example of good practice.

4.2 Course selectors are advised that criteria should be clearly documented and included in course information, brochures, websites etc and that they should be adhered to strictly.

4.3 The main criteria are likely to be academic but other factors such as aptitude tests, relevant experience, references and interviews may be taken into account. In making decisions, applications should be scored according to the criteria and a record kept for future reference.

4.4 It is the responsibility of selectors to arrange interviews, if required, and to take up references.


6. Selection Procedures

6.1 In an increasingly competitive market-place, it is important for the University to attract as many as possible well qualified candidates for postgraduate study. There is the view that candidates react favourably to speed and efficiency in the handling of their applications and it is therefore desirable for them to be processed speedily and on a rolling basis if possible. As part of the new online system, reminders will be sent to schools, where decisions remain outstanding after a period of time.

5.2 At least two members of academic staff should be involved in the decision- making process and the decisions should be signed off, if possible, by the Head of School.

5.3 The decisions which are available to the selectors are as follows:

(i) unconditional offer, where the candidate has already met the academic and other criteria

(ii) conditional offer, where the candidate has not yet satisfied the criteria but would be in a position to do so before the course commences

(iii) reject, where the candidate is deemed to be unacceptable on the basis of academic or other criteria

5.4 Decisions should be written clearly and unambiguously in the space provided on the application form. The basis of admission or, in the case of unsuccessful candidates, brief reasons for rejection, should be indicated clearly. If there are any special circumstances, these should be noted on the form or attached. The decisions must be countersigned by two academic selectors, one of whom may be the Head of School. The final responsibility for decisions rests with the Head of School.

5.5 Candidates may withdraw before a decision is taken. In this event, the form is returned to the Admissions Office.


7. Notifying candidates of decisions

6.1 Formal decisions are conveyed to candidates by the Admissions Office. Where offers are made, guidance notes are provided. These include information on replying to offers, return of degree result sheets, fees, funding, applying for accommodation, registration and other relevant matters. They are advised that arrangements for registration will be made by their school and are provided with contact information. Candidates are also advised that they are responsible for ensuring that they have the necessary resources to cover fees and maintenance for the duration of their course.

6.2 The Admissions Office aims to notify candidates of the outcome of their applications within 2/3 working days of their receipt in the Office.


8. Candidate replies

7.1 Candidates who receive offers of admission are provided with reply cards which are returned to the Admissions Office indicating whether or not they wish to accept. It is expected that the new web-based system will enable the Office to contact candidates who do not respond within a reasonable time.

If they still fail to respond, they will then be presumed withdrawn. A track facility to enable candidates to reply online will be introduced when the new system is fully developed.

8.2 Degree result sheets are provided to all candidates studying in the UK or the Republic of Ireland who receive conditional offers. These sheets should then be returned to the Admissions Office with the official stamp of their institution once their results are known. Other EU and international candidates are requested to send documentary evidence of their results as soon as they are known. All candidates are advised that original documentation or certified photocopies will be required at registration.

8.3 Candidates who receive conditional offers and satisfy the conditions are provided with a Certificate of Acceptance on request. In the case of international candidates, it is provided automatically.

8.4 Those who fail to satisfy the conditions of their offers are reconsidered at the discretion of the school and notified accordingly by the Admissions Office.


9. Deferred entry

Applications for deferred entry are discouraged as many of those who do defer do not materialise the following year. Furthermore, if courses are withdrawn in the meantime, this can cause difficulties for the University and for candidates.


10. Appeals

There is a formal appeals procedure for those who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their applications and details are available from the Admissions Office.


11. Registration

The records of candidates whose offers are or become unconditional and have accepted their offers by mid-August are transferred to the Student Information System (SIS) and acceptances after this date are transferred on a rolling basis. Registration forms are generated from the SIS by the schools and it is the responsibility of individual schools to provide candidates with details of the five stages of the registration process. Further information is provided in the Student Administrative Services and Systems documentation.


12. Applications for funding

Under the current paper-based system, applications for funding are made separately to the Postgraduate Office. With the web-based system, it will be possible to link the two.