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Durham University

Colleges & wider student experience

How the allocation process works

The postgraduate college allocation process for full time applicants is automatic and detailed below for clarity. As soon as a full time postgraduate offer is recorded as accepted, applicants become eligible for college allocation.

We look to maximise the number of applicants allocated to one of their college preferences. We therefore ensure those who submitted a college application and expressed a first, second or third college preference are considered and allocated before those with either ‘No Preference’ or who did not submit a college application.

The automatic process uses acceptance factors based on historical statistical data for postgraduate recruitment to fill the place. This differs by fee status, level and department.

When the automatic process is set in motion the following steps are followed;

a) Applicants are sorted into two groups; those who have expressed a preference (which will be recorded from submission of a college application) and those who either expressed ‘No Preference’ or did not submit a college application.

b) Taking the group where a preference has been expressed, it looks at those who have stated a first college preference.

c) This group is then ordered randomly.

d) Starting with the first applicant record in the preference group, the process looks at the college preference and attempts to make an accept decision for that college. If sufficient offers are available for the algorithm criteria (department, level and fee status) then this will succeed.

e) If the limit for the algorithm in a specific college have been reached, the applicant will be passed to a temporary holding table.

f) This process repeats until all applicants in the preference group have either been accepted or passed to the holding table.

g) Taking the holding table where a preference has been expressed, it looks at those who have stated a second college preference. The process then repeats steps C to F for these applicants.

h) Taking the holding table where a preference has been expressed, it looks at those who have stated a third college preference. The process then repeats steps C to F for these applicants.

i) There will now be a holding table containing applicants who stated a first, second or third college preference but for whom the process was unable to make a decision based on preference.

j) The process now moves systematically down the holding table and for each applicant, it randomly orders the colleges, then attempts to make an accept decision for the first college in the list. If sufficient offers are available this will succeed. This does not include any of the preferences they have already been considered for in previous steps.

k) If all available offers for the algorithm have been made for a college, the process will move on to the next college in the randomly ordered list and try again.

l) This step repeats until a successful accept decision is made.

m) The process then moves to the next record in the holding table and repeats steps J to L.

n) The process will now look at the group who either expressed ‘No Preference’ or did not submit a college application. The process will repeat steps J to L for these applicants.

At the end of this process, all applicants who have accepted their postgraduate offer will have been accepted at a college. The process will then run at regular intervals accordingly and allocate future applicants who accept their offer at a later stage.

Contact Details

Accommodation and Allocations Office

Durham University
Mountjoy Centre
Maple Ground Floor
Stockton Road
Durham
DH1 3LE