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Access and admission at the centre of the discussions in the Mastermind project’s final conference

13 July 2017

The final conference of the Mastermind project took place at the Free University of Amsterdam on 5-7 July.

While vertical mobility is seen as one of the achievements of the European Higher Education Area, the Master Mind project found that access and admission conditions are often not well defined, and lack transparency.  One of the consequences is that, in many cases, applicants from outside and, in particular international students, are on average less successful than the institution’s own Bachelor graduates. 

The Project has therefore created a set of tools to “revolutionise admissions at Master’s level in Europe”. Whether it will succeed remains to be seen, as the conditions and contexts for Masters programmes vary greatly from one higher education system to another, and also in view of the impact of tuition fees and institutions’ lack of autonomy to select students. 
Nevertheless, the new tools developed by the Mastermind project are useful for raising better awareness on the issues at stake and could support a systematic revision of selection processes and procedures. At the conference, several sessions focused on selection criteria and how to assess “learning incomes”, i.e. the knowledge and skills, disciplinary or generic, that students bring with them. While the reliability of assessment tests for personal skills and traits and whether they should be used for selection was debated, there was general agreement that motivation letters are not a very useful means:  research shows that assessment by university staff is highly subjective.  
The three-year project, funded under the European Commission Erasmus + programme, has been developed by a team of European universities, associations and companies led by VU Amsterdam. EUA was involved in the project as member of the Quality Board. 

 

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