The impact of admission systems on higher education outcomes – SASH

The aim of the study is be to identify performance differences between higher education admission systems and to relate these back to the knowledge of how an admission system really works. It will examine the interplay between the behaviour of the four actors who shape HE admissions: policy-makers, schools, HEIs and students. The insights into how this interplay arises and therefore how it might be influenced, will lead to policy-relevant conclusions on how to make higher education admission systems perform better.

General approach

This study uses three central questions in order to analyse how admission systems work (in terms of efficiency and equity) and what impacts (on access and success) they have. These are:

  • How do schools choose people that can become students?
  • How do universities and colleges choose the students they enrol?
  • How do students choose higher education institutions?

The authors argue that admissions systems are becoming more complex, as they strive to accommodate more diversity on the part of the wishes of prospective students and receiving institutions of higher education. The authors hypothesise that this complexity will lead to tensions and hamper the achievement of efficiency and equity in the system.

Main objectives

  • To prepare a comparative overview of country policies (mapping) and strategies for implementation on selective, open or mixed admission systems at Bachelor level and whether or not these include other strategic and linked elements, including guidance, level of both academic and non-academic support.
  • To analyse the impact of admission systems on a range of outcomes for higher education: such as participation from all social groups, completion rates, the extent to which admission systems act as a barrier or as support for access, time to degree, study choice and whether this is reflected in labour market matching.
  • To examine links between the admission system and background of students (gender, education, ethnicity and socio-economic) to indicate the degree to which admission systems may play a part in the study success of underrepresented groups.
  • To identify strengths and weaknesses of selective, open or mixed admission systems. Analyse to what extent strengths could be replicable in other higher education systems with similar characteristics.
  • To identify successful policy mixes and strategies, allowing bringing forward recommendations.