Friday, 5 September 2008

Pre-HE Qualifications developments

Some of you will be aware of the sterling work being done by Laura Lane, UK Qualifications officer with Admissions, assisting departments in framing their responses to the new qualifications being offered by schools and colleges from the start of this academic year. In particular, all departments need to update their UCAS entry requirements taking into account the new Advanced Diplomas, AQA Bacc and Cambridge Pre-Us.

As part of TASH's ongoing dialogue with SRAM, I attended a roundtable discussion for Faculty of Arts and Humanities admissions tutors yesterday, hosted by Laura and Ana Kingston (Head of Admissions), at which many of the issues raised by these developments were aired. From the point of view of TASH, I just wanted to flag up one key area of discussion, and to note how we may be able to assist parties on every side of the fence in at least one important aspect common to all the new developments in train - namely the development of Extended Projects, whether as stand alone components of a broader A-level offer, as part of an AQA Bacc, or in the context of the new Advanced Diplomas.

There is a widely acknowledged need to support students, both pre- and post-entry, in the development of increasingly robust academic research, analysis and writing skills, all of which could and, I'd suggest, should be addressed, inter alia, through extended projects such as these. TASH is watching these developments closely and we hope that supporting the generic skills required for effective project working such as this will be one very important way in which we can provide a resource of real value to students both pre- and post- HE entry, whether they come to this institution or not. Indeed this kind of approach can hopefully serve to help others outside HEIs understand a little more of what it is we mean, as a Russell Group institution, when we say we are looking for independent, critical thinking in our prospective, as well as our current students. Precisely the sort of stuff which may assist the work of the lifelong learning networks, referred to by Tim here.

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