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University admission or college admissions is the process through which students enter tertiary education at universities and colleges. Systems vary widely from country to country, and sometimes from institution to institution.
In many countries, prospective university students apply for admission during their last year of high school or community college. In some countries, there are independent organizations or government agencies to centralize the administration of standardized admission exams and the processing of applications.
As Australia uses a Federal system of government, responsibility for education, and admission to Technical and Further Education colleges and undergraduate degrees at universities for domestic students, are in the domain of state and territory government (see Education in Australia). All states except Tasmania have centralized processing units for admission to undergraduate degrees for citizens of Australia and New Zealand, and for Australian permanent residents; however applications for international and postgraduate students are usually accepted by individual universities. The Australian government operates the Higher Education Contribution Scheme for undergraduate students, so admission is rarely limited by prospective students' ability to pay up-front. All states use a system that awards the recipient with an Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank, or ENTER, and the award of an International Baccalaureate meets the minimum requirements for admission in every state. The Special Tertiary Admissions Test is the standard test for non-school-leavers nationwide.
New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
The Universities Admission Centre accepts applications for all NSW and ACT tertiary institutions. Applications usually consist of standardized test results, adherence to the university's selection criteria for the applicable course, and a suitable application. The standard test for school-leavers is the Higher School Certificate in NSW, and the Year 12 Certificate in the ACT, resulting in a University Admission Index score out of 100.
The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Northern Territory tertiary institutions. Year 12 students are awarded the Northern Territory Certificate of Education and must meet course requirements.
The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Queensland tertiary institutions. Year 12 students are awarded an Overall Position, based on their performance in class subjects and their school's average result in the Queensland Core Skills Test, as well as meeting course requirements.
The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for South Australian tertiary institutions. Year 12 students are awarded the South Australian Certificate of Education, and must meet course requirements.
Tasmanian school leavers applying for entrance at the University of Tasmania need to apply directly to the university. Tasmanian school students receive a Tertiary Entrance Rank on successful completion of the Tasmanian Certificate of Education. Students from interstate wishing to study at UTas may apply through either the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre, or directly through the University.
The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Victorian tertiary institutions. Applications consist of standardized test results and meeting institutional requirements. The standard certification for school-leavers is the Victorian Certificate of Education.
Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium
Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium probably have the most liberal system of university admission anywhere in the world, since anyone who has passed the Matura may enroll in any subject field (or even several at no additional cost) at a public university. In Belgium as well, the only prerequisite for enrolling in university studies is to have obtained a high-school diploma. In both Switzerland and Belgium, medical studies are an exception, which have a numerus clausus system due to overcrowding. This liberal admission practice led to overcrowding and high dropout rates in the more popular fields of study like psychology and journalism, as well as high failure rates on examinations which are unofficially Template:Clarify me used to filter out the less-capable students. Following a ruling by the European Court of Justice issued on July 7, 2005, which forces Austria to accept nationals of other EU Member States under the same conditions as students who took their Matura in Austria, a law was passed on June 8 allowing universities to impose measures to select students in those fields which are subject to numerus clausus in Germany. Starting in 2006, the three medical universities (in Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz) did introduce entrance exams. There are no intentions to introduce a numerus clausus in any subject field.
Admission to Brazilian universities requires a secondary school diploma (Diploma de Ensino Médio) or equivalent, and a satisfactory performance in a competitive entrance exam known as Concurso Vestibular. Most top state-funded universities have a limited number of places for first-year students, which are filled for each individual major by ranking the respective candidates' scores on the Vestibular in descending order. Contrary to other countries, extracurricular activities, secondary school grades and interviews play no role in admissions, which are based solely on Vestibular scores. Each university is free to determine the format and syllabus of its own Vestibular exam, but the exam consists generally of two parts: a preliminary Part I with multiple-choice questions on the core secondary school subjects (Portuguese Language and Literature in Portuguese Language (in the same part of the test), Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, and Geography) and a more specific Part II consisting normally of three or four write-in exams. A Portuguese Language/Literature exam including a student-written essay is required of all candidates at Part II, irrespective of their intended majors. In addition, candidates also take two or three exams in subjects that vary according to their intended course of study. For example, for prospective engineering students, Part II normally includes Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry exams, whereas a prospective Law student would have to take History and Geography, and Medical School-bound students take Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Critical reading ability in a foreign language (usually English) is also tested, normally at Part I of the Vestibular, but it represents a very small percentage (usually less than 10%) of the overall exam. Candidates must generally achieve a minimum cutoff score in Part I (known as nota de corte) in order to be eligible to take Part II exams. The cutoff score varies for different majors as it depends on the number of first-year places available for each field of study. Finally, admission to certain majors like Architecture, Drama, Fine Arts, and Music also normally requires additional specific skills tests and auditions.
In Canada, students applying from high school generally hear word back from a college or university between late March and late May, though offers of admission may be extended to high achievers (through GPA or other submissions) as early as November-January. Internationals/US applicants are likely to receive an offer or rejection by early April, depending on the original submission of documents. In some cases, an institution may offer admission in a high schoolers Grade 11 year, if monetary fees are sent in early.
College vs. university
Acceptance to any Canadian university or college requires completion of a high school diploma, such as the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Completion of pre-secondary education in Canada almost always means the student has:
- Completed 40 hours of community service/volunteer,
- Successfully completed (passed) a provincial or federal Literacy test,
- Successfully completed (passed) a certain number of credits (30 in Ontario) in a Canadian high school curriculum.
In Canada, the difference between college and university is significantly different than typical interpretation in the United States or even United Kingdom. A Canadian college is more similar to an American community college. In contrast, a Canadian university is comparable to an American university, and virtually all Canadian universities have endowments over $20 million, most frequently above $100 million. It should be noted that almost all Canadian post-secondary institutions are publicly funded, as in, government subsidized. The few private institutions that are not government-supported are not widely known at all, have generally only been established since the 1980s, and are mostly located in British Columbia.
In the Canadian education system, which varies from province to province, colleges are geared for individuals seeking applied careers, such as a chef or store manager. Universities are geared for individuals seeking more academic careers, and a university degree is required for entrance to virtually any Canadian professional school, to become a lawyer, doctor etc. There are other systems in place for students to enter traditional trades (called "skilled" trades in Canada), and some provinces have unique preparatory systems or schools, such as Quebec's CEGEP Program.
- In 2007, national headlines were made when the Obay Campaign was launched by Colleges Ontario as an effort to bring awareness to "academic snobbery" that exists in Canada, where college is typically considered a low second-choice to university. It is also incredibly rare for students leaving high school to consider both college and university, most standing firm on one choice as being their 'only option'.
Admission to colleges and universities in Canada has been a straightforward process since the 1970s. Students generally rank their choice institutions in order of preference and submit their transcript to the institution or provincial application service for evaluation. In the majority of cases, acceptance is based entirely on marks, with potential for elevation depending on what province an applicant may be from. Applicants in-province typically have much less stringent grade requirements than out-of-province applicants. For instance, a student applying from an Ontario high school to a university in Alberta or Quebec is likely to require marginally elevated grades, as opposed to applying to any school in Ontario itself, where universities and colleges have far lower requirements for their own province's high school graduates.
College requirements vary more significantly, though none have entrance requirements above 85% from a Canadian high school. In general though, more well-respected colleges (such as George Brown College, Mohawk College and Capilano College) accept a very high proportion of students with averages above 70%, although they may place no limiting minimum for acceptance, and consequently take students with averages below 60%. Incidentally, even the newest, least-reputable Canadian universities have larger endowments than any Canadian college, with no Canadian college having an endowment above $10 million. See List of Canadian universities by endowment.
Students with an IB Diploma can generally enter either college or university more easily than other Canadian high schoolers, due to the material covered in the program. Like students with AP credits, they may also clip courses in university with faculty consent.
In the case of more select university programs, and for almost all international students, an essay, statement of intent or personal statement of experience must be submitted directly to the faculty being applied for. Additionally, letters of reference, examples of extracurricular involvement, additional community service endeavours, athletic participation, awards and scholarships won and more may all be required items for acceptance to some of Canada's top programs.
Comparability of admissions
Although grades count for the bulk of university and college admissions, there are an array of highly competitive programs in Canada, on par with some in the United States (which has a much larger applicant pool to draw from). In addition, a large portion (upwards of 30%) of university graduates in Canada continue on to pursue further education beyond an undergraduate degree, simply because employability standards are high in the country, often demanding multiple degrees for well-paying jobs.
Achieving entrance to any of two dozen colleges and universities in Canada poses little to no difficulty for any student who has graduated high school (or earned an equivalent diploma outside North America), but entrance to a similar number of university and college programs is extremely difficult. On average, achieving the necessary grades for admission to a worthwhile Canadian university or college is difficult. It should be noted that the real difficulty comes into play in staying in either college or university, since attainment of high school grades may prove much easier than maintaining the necessary GPA for graduation from a Canadian institution.
Post-graduate schools in Canada are, as with other parts of the world, restricted to universities (i.e. One cannot get a Masters degree from a Canadian college). Admission to any post-graduate program in Canada is difficult, with many universities having world-renowned programs, and Canadian graduate schools being the sites for many famous inventions and discoveries.
- Post-Secondary Application Service of British Columbia (British Columbia)
- Ontario Universities' Application Centre (Ontario)
- Ontario College Application Service (Ontario).
- List of colleges in Canada
- List of universities in Canada
- Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
- List of Canadian universities by endowment
- Main article: National College Entrance Examination
In People's Republic of China, the National College Entrance Examination (高考, gaokao) is given each summer and required for each student. The exam covers common school topics such as math, language, history, science, etc. Better institutions require higher scores for admittance. The required score also varies by province: students in more competitive provinces, like Jiangsu, need higher scores than students from less competitive areas such as Tibet. Conversely, wealthier cities have more universities per capita and hence lower university entrance standards than some poorer provinces. In 2006 for example, the minimum score to enter a key university for applicants from Beijing is 516 but the minimum score for applicants from Henan is 591
In Germany prospective students who have passed the Abitur may decide freely what subjects to enroll in. Recently, however, in most subject fields students have to pass a certain numerus clausus — that is, they cannot enroll unless they have scored a minimum grade point average on their Abitur.
One should distinguish two types of higher education institutions in Germany, the universities (including Technische Hochschulen) and the Fachhochschulen (polytechnics). A prospective students who has passed the Abitur is qualified for admission to every German university, with the exception of very few new degree programs, where additional entrance examinations were recently introduced. A Fachhochschule, in contrast, often requires from the student the completing of an internship to qualify for admission.
There is also a second German school leaving exam, which qualifies the prospective students for admission to higher education in Germany, the Fachhochschulreife, often called Fachabitur in colloquial usage. An internship is already part of the Fachhochschulreife itself, therefore a Fachhochschule requires no additional internship from the student. However, most universities do not accept this qualification for admission. An exception are universities in the German state of Hesse, who accept this qualification since 2004 for admission to Bachelor's degree courses, but not to the traditional German Diplom degree courses.
All public universities in Hong Kong admit students under the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS). The major criterion of selection is HKALE result. and to a less extent HKCEE result and interview performance.
Most Indian universities participate in one or another centralized admission procedure. National tests and interviews are organized by an independent body composed of members of the participating organizations. Little weight is given to applicants’ past academic record and more to their exam results. Applicants are ranked by exam grades, and submit their preference of universities/programs based on their rank and choice. Some such common entrance tests are:
- Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), the undergraduate exam for the seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs);
- Graduate Admission Test of Engineering (GATE), the graduate exam for the IITs
- All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE) for admission to Undergraduate Engineering and Arcitecture / Design courses.
- Common Admission Test (CAT), for the Indian Institutes of Management.
- Pre Medical Test (PMT)-conducted by the CBSE; the entrance exam for admission to MBBS program.
States have their own admissions exams and policies. For example, the state of Maharashtra uses the HSC test as a prerequisite for entering Degree level college and uses the SSC test as a prerequisite for entering Junior Level college as well as Diploma Level College.Apart from that 15% reserved for NRI / Foreign students
In Ireland, students in their final year of secondary education apply to the Central Applications Office, listing several courses at any of the third level institutions in order of preference. Students then receive points based on their Leaving Certificate, and places on courses are offered to those who applied, who received the highest points.
In Israel there is a National Center for Examinations and Evaluation.
In Japan there is a National Center for University Entrance Examinations.
In the Netherlands, prospective students have to choose, two years before graduation, for a graduation type (e.g. natural science graduation type). Subjects at Dutch universities freely accept all students who have chosen the correct graduation type (e.g. to enroll in physics, the graduation type 'natural sciences' is required). All other students have to pass an exam to be enroll (this is the exception). Popular subjects, such as medicine or dental medicine have a numerus fixus, meaning that a limited number of students may enroll for this subject at a particular university. To decide who is allowed, a lottery is held in which ones grades influence chances of being chosen (an indirect and incomplete numerus clausus).
In Norway candidates are admitted to entry-level programs through the Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Service, that ranks qualified students based on a point scheme, that is based on grades and the degree of specialization and choice of study at upper secondary school, as well as age. At Master level admission is based on the grade average at the Bachelor level.
In Pakistan for undergraduate admissions the national universities have common entrance tests which are SAT based and are held according to provincial zones, the private universities hold their own entrance test which are also SAT based.
For postgraduate admissions some of the universities hold tests which are followed by interviews and others take interviews only.
For Medical studies there is huge competition as there are a few medical colleges. They require test as well as interview.
In Portugal admission to higher education level studies requires the secondary school credential, Diploma de Ensino Secundário, which is achieved after completing the first twelve study years. Students must have studied the subjects for which they are entering to be prepared for the entrance exams, but they are not required to have previously specialised in any specific area at the secondary school. Students sit for one or more entrance exams, Concurso nacional for public institutions or Concurso local for private institutions. In addition to passing entrance exams, students must fulfil particular prerequisites for the chosen course. Enrollment is limited; each year the institution establishes the number of places available. For the public institutions the exam scores count for the final evaluation, which includes the secondary school average marks. Then the students have to choose six institutions/courses they prefer to attend, in preferential order. The ones, who reach the marks needed to attend the desired institution/course, given the attributed vacant, will be admitted. Some public university courses demands generally higher admission marks than most similar courses at some polytechnical institutes or private institutions. (see also Education in Portugal)
Admission in Sweden requires completion of secondary education, along with the proper specific qualifications (e.g. science in high school to study science in college). Prospective students are admitted based on their grade point average or SAT, although majors such as theatre and architecture may require some extra work.
- Main article: Education in Turkey
- See also: UCAS
The application process
The United Kingdom has a centralised system of admissions to higher education at undergraduate level, UCAS. In general, students are not admitted to universities and colleges as a whole, but to particular courses of study.
During the first few months (September to December) of the final year of school or sixth form college (age 17/18) or after having left school, applicants register on the UCAS website and select five courses at higher education institutes (fewer choices are permitted for the more competitive subjects such as medicine and veterinary medicine). If the applicant is still at school, his or her teachers will give him or her predicted grades for their A-level, Highers or IB subjects, which are then used for the application. If the applicant has already left school, he or she applies with results already obtained. The applicant must provide a personal statement describing in their own words why they want to study that particular subject and why they would be a committed student, and their school must provide an academic reference. Some universities (e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College or University College London) and some disciplines (e.g. medicine) routinely require shortlisted candidates to attend an interview and/or complete special admissions tests before deciding whether to make an offer. In the absence of tests and interviews, the personal statement and reference can be decisive, as many students are likely to apply to competitive courses with similar predicted and actual grades.
In general, applications must be received mid-January for courses that start the following Autumn. However the deadline is three months earlier, in mid-October, where the application includes a medical, dentistry or veterinary course, or any course at Oxbridge.
For each course applied for, the applicant receives a response from the institution: rejection, conditional offer or unconditional offer. If a conditional offer is received, the student can only take up the place on the course if they later fulfil the stated conditions: normally the achievement of specific grades in their forthcoming exams. If no offers are received following the initial application, or the applicant does not wish to take up any of their offers,[How to reference and link to summary or text] UCAS+ can be used. Applicants can then apply to one course at a time in order to try to find a suitable offer.
Following the receipt of offers, whether after the initial application, or through UCAS+, the applicant chooses two courses for which offers have been made: a first choice and a second choice. If the conditions of the first choice offer are later met, the applicant may attend this course. If the applicant does not fulfil the conditions of their first choice, but does fulfil the conditions of their second "insurance" choice, they can attend their second choice course. If they fail to meet the conditions of both offers, they may choose to go through "clearing". This involves ringing up or sending their application to different universities in the hope of finding a place on another course. Many students do successfully find places through this route.
Factors affecting admission
Whether to admit an applicant to a course is entirely the decision of each individual university. They will base their decision on a variety of factors, but primarily the grades predicted or already received in school leaver examinations. As more and more applicants are attaining higher and higher grades in the A level examinations, most universities also use secondary admissions criteria. These may include results at GCSE or Standard grade examinations (or equivalent), the references provided on the application and the information provided on the personal statement. The personal statement can often be the deciding factor between two similar candidates so a small industry has sprung up offering false personal statements for a fee. UCAS uses "similarity detection" software to detect personal statements that have been written by third parties or copied from other sources, and universities can reject applications for this reason.
The personal statements generally describe why the applicant wants to study the subject they have applied for, what makes them suitable to study that subject, what makes them suitable to study at degree level generally, any relevant work experience they have gained, their extracurricular activities and any other relevant factors. This is the only way admissions tutors can normally get an impression of what a candidate is really like and assess the applicant's commitment to the subject.
In addition to the information provided on the UCAS form, some universities ask candidates to attend an interview. Oxford and Cambridge almost always interview applicants, unless, based on the UCAS form and/or admissions tests, they do not believe the applicant has any chance of admission. Other universities may choose to interview, though only in some subjects and on a much smaller scale, having already filtered out the majority of candidates. The interview gives the admissions tutors another chance to assess the candidate's suitability for the course.
Universities are increasingly being put under pressure from central Government to admit people from a wider range of social backgrounds. Social background can only be assessed by the type of school attended, as no information about income or background is otherwise required on the UCAS form.
Another important determinant of whether an offer is to be made is the amount of competition for admission to that course. The more competitive the course, the less likely an offer will be made and, therefore, the stronger the application must be. Applicants for medicine are often expected to have undertaken extensive work experience in a relevant field in order to show their commitment to the course. For the most competitive courses, less than 10% of applications may result in admission, whereas at the less competitive universities, practically all applicants may receive an offer of admission.
Ultimately, however, no matter how many extra-curricular activities and work experience have been undertaken, if the admissions tutor does not believe, based on the submitted exam results, the candidate is academically capable of completing the course, he or she will not be admitted.
A well qualified candidate applying under UCAS for five competitive courses to each of which only 10% of well qualified candidates could be accepted would have only a 40% chance of receiving at least one offer of acceptance. Alternatively, if five less competitive courses each having a 33% acceptance rate are chosen, the chance of receiving at least one offer is more than 85%. This implies that a strategy for improving the chance of receiving at least one offer, to perhaps 70%, is indicated even to well qualified candidates.
All applications are made directly to the university or college, with no limit on the number of courses that can be applied for.
- Main article: College admissions in the United States
In the United States of America, high school students apply to either four-year liberal arts colleges or universities, which include both undergraduate or graduate students. Others attend community colleges, who admit all students with high school diplomas, in preparation for transfer to a four year university. Non-traditional students are usually students over the age of 22 who pursue studies in higher education. Students may apply to many institutions using the Common Application. There is no limit to the number of colleges or universities to which a student may apply, though an application must be submitted for each. Fees are generally charged for each admissions application, but can be waived based on financial need.
Students apply to one or more colleges or universities by submitting an application which each college evaluates by its own criteria. The college then decides whether to extend an offer of admission (and possibly financial aid) to the student. The majority of colleges admit students to the college as a whole, and not to a particular academic major, although this may not be the case in some specialized programs such as engineering and architecture. The system is decentralized: each college has its own criteria for admission, even when using a common application form.
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- ↑ What do you need to graduate?. Ontario Ministry of Education. URL accessed on 2009-05-05.
- ↑ How to Apply - 2009 - Your personal statement. UCAS. URL accessed on 2009-03-22.
- ↑ How to Apply - 2009 - Overview. UCAS. URL accessed on 2009-03-22.
- ↑ Admissions Tests. UCAS. URL accessed on 2009-03-22.
- ↑ UCAS Students: Important dates for your diary. URL accessed on 2009-02-02.
- ↑ Questions about the UCAS Similarity Detection Service. UCAS. URL accessed on 2009-03-22.
- College Board The organization that administers the SAT and AP exams; much useful information on college admissions plus a searchable database of colleges and universities
- College Insider Free college planning advice from the New Hampshire Center for College Planning.
- College Opportunities Online Searchable college database maintained by the U.S. Department of Education
- The Common Application- Application form accepted by over 300 colleges and universities in the United States. Free to use, can submit applications online.
- College Admissions College Admissions: Who Wins and Who Loses? a video produced by the Massachusetts School of Law
- American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) Professional association for college and university admissions practitioners.
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