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University admission policies revisited: a growing call for broadening the selection base and enhancing the connection between secondary education and higher education

On 17-19 October members of the Education Research Institutions Network (ERI-net) gathered in Bangkok for the annual meeting 2013 titled ‘Transition to a Better and Higher Learning’. One of the research topics discussed was the transition from secondary education to higher education - a particularly pertinent topic in the Asia-Pacific region where governments have started to rethink admission policies and mechanisms as a response to rapidly expanding and diversifying higher education systems.

At the meeting, researchers from Australia, Hong Kong SAR, China, Japan, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, and Thailand shared findings from case studies carried out in 2013. While the research highlighted the great diversity that exists in the region in terms of the types, purposes and goals of higher education admission policies, they also revealed a number of commonalities and regional trends. In particular, the case studies revealed that admission policies are moving towards a broadening of selection criteria to include both academic achievements as well as students’ involvement in extra-curricular activities, such as community engagement, and sports and volunteering commitments. Among other things, the research highlighted that governments experience similar challenges in improving the transition from secondary education to higher education and in containing the negative repercussions of admission policies on secondary education and its students, such as high stress levels among students and teachers and high household spending on private tutoring.

At the end of the meeting, a concise synthesis report of the case study findings was delivered by Mr Libing Wang, Senior Programme Specialist in Higher Education at UNESCO Bangkok. Mr Wang highlighted that the case studies clearly indicate the important role admission policies play in social and economic development overall, and that they have a close connection to a number of significant issues, such as social inclusion, national solidarity, equity, and the quality and transparency of the education sector. The full synthesis report, which can serve as a policy reference for Member States in the Asia-Pacific Region can be accessed here.

ERI-net which was established by UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education in 2009, aims to promote and enable regional collaboration among education research institutions on educational issues that are particularly relevant to the Asia-Pacific region. The annual meeting 2013 also included case study presentations on the integration of transversal/non-cognitive skills development in education policy and practice. To access all presentations and additional information about the meeting, visit the ERI-net webpages here.

For more information related to the higher education sector, please contact Mr Libing Wang [l.wang(at)unesco.org] at the Asia-Pacific Programme of Educational Innovation for Development (APEID) unit.

For more information about ERI-net please contact Ms Satoko Yano [s.yano(at)unesco.org] at the Education Policy and Reform (EPR) unit.

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Written by Sofia Strandberg [s.strandberg(at)unesco.org]

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18.11.2013