At least a quarter of the access gap to the top universities in England, the United States and Australia cannot be explained by academic achievement, according to new research by Dr John Jerrim. The research was presented at the Sutton Trust Advancing Access and Admissions Summit at the Royal Society in London in November, 2013.
1. Universities should be more transparent about how specific subject departments use and evaluate personal statements. This information should be shared widely, and effectively, with applicants, schools and teachers.
2. Sections of detailed analysis and reflection in personal statements are highly valued by academics. Schools should support applicants in providing opportunities to undertake and reflect upon academic enrichment activities.
3. Schools and colleges need to improve the quality of staff training to ensure that key messages are consistent and based on up to date guidelines.
4. Both universities and UCAS should consider whether the format of the personal statement could be improved to ensure it is a useful and fair indicator of an applicant’s potential.