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Welcome to Durham University's Common Awards website

Admissions: Overview

1. Durham University is accountable for all admissions decisions leading to its awards. As confirmed through the initial approval process, TEIs have their own tried and tested admissions processes and extensive experience of operating those processes. Our expectation is, therefore, that TEIs will continue to use their existing admissions processes, in line with the guidance issued here. The University will retain oversight of admissions through its approval, monitoring, and review processes.

2. This guidance draws on information provided in the programme specifications, the Core Regulations for Common Awards programmes, and the validation contracts. It is intended to clarify expectations regarding admissions, recruitment, and selection.

Entry requirements

The approved entry requirements for 2018-19 are available here

4. As with much of the Common Awards framework, the admissions process has a two-tier structure:

1:
The University’s Quality and Standards Sub-Committee (QSSC) approves the generic entry requirements for the Common Awards programmes (upon the recommendation of the Common Awards Management Board). The approved entry requirements are set out in the published programme specifications;
2:
Each TEI proposes specific entry requirements, in line with the generic entry requirements. The TEI’s specific entry requirements are approved by the Common Awards Management Board (normally by Chair’s Action) as part of the process of approving each TEI’s Admissions Policy.

Responsibilities

5. Key responsibilities relating to admissions are as follows:

QSSC

QSSC is responsible for approving the generic entry requirements for each Common Awards programme

Management Board

The Common Awards Management Board is responsible for:

1) reviewing the generic entry requirements annually, and proposing any changes to QSSC;

2) approving the specific entry requirements proposed by each TEI;

3) approving each TEI’s Admissions Policy, and considering for approval all proposed changes to the policies;

4) considering for approval all published information and publicity materials submitted by TEIs.

TEIs

Each TEI is responsible for:

A. developing an Admissions Policy in line with the guidance provided here, and submitting that policy (and proposed revisions to the policy) to the Common Awards Team for approval;

B. defining specific entry requirements (within the TEI’s Admissions Policy);

C. all aspects of the management, operation, and review of recruitment and admissions processes;

D. producing – and seeking approval for – published information and publicity materials that refer to Durham University and/or the Common Awards programmes;

E. making admissions decisions in cases where students meet the entry requirements (as specified in the TEI’s Admissions Policy);

F. ensuring that all applications which do not meet the entry requirements (as specified in the TEI’s Admissions Policy) are referred to the Common Awards Team via a concession request in good time so that admissions decisions can be taken by the Common Awards Management Board (normally by Chair’s Action);

G. the training and development of staff involved in admissions processes;

H. maintaining clear and accurate records of admission decisions.

TEI Responsibilities: Further Information

A. Developing an Admissions Policy

6. Each TEI will produce a clear, written admissions policy that must be approved by the Common Awards Management Board (usually by Chair’s Action). There should be one admissions policy for each TEI.

7. We anticipate that there may be a small number of circumstances where it is necessary for the TEI’s admissions policy to include a certain degree of differentiation for legitimate reasons; for example, where admissions processes within a TEI need to reflect the different selection processes of more than one sponsoring church. However, even in such cases, we expect each TEI policy to demonstrate commonality and parity with respect to the Common Awards programmes and students.

8. TEI admissions policies must include:

a) the specific entry requirements

b) whether, and under which circumstances, applicants who do not meet the specific entry requirements might be admitted to the programmes

c) the processes and/or criteria that the TEI will use to judge whether applicants are capable of studying at the appropriate level

d) who is responsible for making admissions decisions (in some cases, this responsibility may be delegated; however, the policy should specify who has ultimate responsibility for such decisions)

9. TEI admissions policies might also include:

a) information about the admissions complaints process (see further guidance on admissions complaints)

b) information about the TEI’s APL policy (see further guidance on APL)

10. If the information above 9(a)-(b) is not contained in the TEI’s Admissions Policy, it must be provided in a separate document also to be approved by the Common Awards Management Board: admissions complaints information may be contained in a separate policy on admissions complaints; APL information may be contained in a separate policy on APL.

11. All TEIs are advised to note that their admissions policies should be approved by the University before they are publicised to potential applicants. This is to ensure that potential applicants are aware of the approved specific entry requirements.

B. Defining specific entry requirements

12. Each TEI’s Management Committee is responsible for recommending to the Common Awards Management Board the specific entry requirements for the programmes for which the Management Committee is responsible (see the Management Committee Terms of Reference). When doing this, TEIs should consult the generic entry requirements in the relevant programme specifications.

13. The specific entry requirements for 2015/16 entry will be approved through the initial approval process for TEI Admissions Policies.

14. TEIs are expected to define (within their Admissions Policies) the standard entry requirements for their programmes. For example, three A-levels at Grade C or above (or equivalent) for entry onto a BA; two A-levels at Grade E or above (or equivalent) for entry onto a Diploma; a 2:1 degree for entry onto an MA. When doing this, TEIs should consult the generic entry requirements in the programme specifications.

15. TEIs should clarify (within their Admissions Policies) whether, and under which circumstances, applicants who do not meet the standard entry requirements might be admitted to the programmes. TEIs should state how it would determine whether a student is capable of completing academic study at the specified Level. (Examples of this might include: the completion of a taster module; the submission of recently completed and assessed work; the completion of an assigned task that would be marked by the TEI).

16. Where an applicant does not meet the TEI’s specific entry requirements, but the TEI nevertheless has good reason to judge that the applicant is capable of studying at the appropriate level, it is likely that the TEI will choose to admit the student to a lower level award in the first instance (e.g. a Certificate instead of a BA; a PGCert instead of an MA), ready to transfer to the higher level award subject to satisfactory progress. If TEIs choose this as an option, they should state this within their Admissions policy. When considering such cases, TEIs would need to create and maintain a clear record of their decision and its rationale.

17. If members of staff in TEIs have questions about qualification equivalencies, including overseas qualifications, please contact us.

C. Management, operation and review of admissions

18. Each TEI is responsible for the management, operation, and review of its admissions, recruitment and selection processes. This includes providing information, support, and advice to applicants and potential applicants.

19. Each TEI’s Management Committee is responsible for monitoring the quality and standards of the programme(s) it delivers. This includes consideration of selection, admission (including the training of admissions selectors), and induction of students (see the Terms of Reference for Management Committees)

20. TEIs will need to have clear processes for monitoring and making decisions about progression for all students. This is especially important for students who have been admitted with non-standard qualifications. The track record of successful progression and achievement will be important evidence to confirm the appropriateness of the TEI’s admissions policies and practices.

21. TEIs will review their recruitment, selection and admissions policies and procedures as part of the Annual Self Evaluation process. Areas that should be addressed include:

a) the provision, and effectiveness, of recruitment opportunities and events

b) the TEI’s performance against its admissions targets

c) the conversion from application to entry

d) the diversity of applicants and entrants

D. Producing publicity materials

22. Each TEI is responsible for producing publicity materials and published information, including that which relates to recruitment and admissions. TEIs should ensure that they request approval – in good time – for all such materials, in line with the publicity guidance published in the TEI Handbook.

E. Making admissions decisions

23. TEIs are responsible for making admissions decisions in cases where applicants meet the entry requirements (as specified in the TEI's approved Admissions Policy). Applications from individuals who do not meet the entry requirements should be sent to the Common Awards Team for consideration by the Common Awards Management Board via a concession request. (see below).

F. Referring admissions decisions to the University

24. The Common Awards Management Board is responsible for approving applications that do not fulfil the normal entry criteria, as specified in the TEI's approved Admissions Policy (see the Terms of Reference for the Management Board). TEIs should send all such cases to the Common Awards Team in good time, in line with the process for Admissions Concessions (AD1).

G. Training and development of staff

25. TEIs should ensure that all members of staff involved in the admissions process are appropriately inducted, trained, and supported, and that they are fully aware of the relevant policies and processes (both those of the TEI and those of the Common Awards Scheme).

H. Maintaining clear and accurate records

26. TEIs should keep clear records of all the admissions decisions they make, the rationale for those decisions, and the evidence they use. These records will be used for monitoring and review purposes.

Further information: 

Overseas qualifications

The Common Awards Team is able to use the University’s NARIC license on behalf of the TEIs to answer queries relating to overseas qualifications.

Durham University’s website also provides the following information relating to overseas qualifications:


Version control

Page updated Nature of amendment Amended by:
11.07.14 Publication of enhanced guidance to provide clarification on TEI Admissions Policies and related areas. EM
04.02.15 Restructuring of guidance to improve further the clarity of information for TEIs, following consideration of the proposed revisions at the Management Board in January 2015. EM
02.03.17 Inclusion of information on overseas qualifications EG
15.08.17 Update of Entry Requirements (2017/18) to reflect the approval of the Foundation Award in Theology, Ministry and Mission AB
18.09.18 Update of Entry Requirements (2018/19) to reflect the change in IELTS requirements for Level 4 programmes RJ