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Oxford University

New report shows what universities are really looking for

Commitment, passion and perseverance essential for clearing success, according to new admissions report

Posted by Stephanie Broad | July 26, 2016 | People, policy, politics

This year’s University Admissions Officers Report shows that nine in ten universities consider students’ propensity to complete their degree when offering places. 

In the study, 99% of university officers said they actively consider a student’s likelihood to complete their degree when deciding to offer them a place or not – an eight per cent increase from last year.   

Students applying to university through Clearing or Adjustment must be prepared to demonstrate their commitment to their chosen course. Nine in ten admissions officers said they look for evidence of a student’s passion for their chosen subject, with a similar number looking for evidence of a positive attitude towards study. Eight out of 10 value an ability to preserve and complete tasks.  

“Despite the frenzy for places usually associated with Clearing, our report shows that applicants must be ready to deliver a confident pitch,” commented Fergus Rose, Advancement Director at ACS International Schools, who commissioned the research. “Students need to demonstrate their ability to knuckle down, study hard and a passion for their chosen subject to help secure these competitive places.”  

Admissions officers consider an ability to think and work independently as an essential quality required to succeed at university – with nine in 10 admissions personnel saying they look for examples of independent inquiry from applicants. However, the survey also revealed that 62% of officers believed that this ability is the one most often found missing in students.  

Further strong academic skills still remain important with universities citing ‘good written English’, 95%; and ‘confidence with basic maths’, 80%, as factors for consideration.  

Top 15 attributes university admission officers look for in addition to academic qualifications and grades

1.  Propensity to complete their degree (99%)

2.  Evidence of a passion for their chosen course subject (95%)

3.  Good written English (95%)

4.  Evidence of a positive attitude towards study (91%)

5.  Evidence of an ability to think and work independently (90%)

6.  Confidence with basic maths (80%)

7.  Ability to persevere and complete tasks (79%)

8.  Good presentation skills (72%)

9.  Ability to work well in groups (60%)

10.  Intercultural awareness (28%) 

11.  Skills to lead work and study groups (26%)

12.  Evidence of success through a difficult start or background (24%)

13.  Evidence of an entrepreneurial attitude (24%)

14.  Likelihood to contribute to the research life of the university (20%)

15.  Having held positions of responsibility (22%)

Fergus concludes: “It is important that a student’s choice of subject is based on their enjoyment and passion as well as considering how it will help them reach their future career goals. Today’s students must demonstrate a well rounded skill set and a true commitment to their chosen subject if they are to succeed through Clearing and Adjustment. Ultimately, passion and perseverance are qualities highly sought after by employers, not just universities.”

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