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An initial investigation of Admissions processes and their impact upon the Widening Access Agenda in Physiotherapy Education

Morgan, Jill 2016. An initial investigation of Admissions processes and their impact upon the Widening Access Agenda in Physiotherapy Education. Presented at: ER-WCPT 2016, Liverpool, UK, 11-12 November 2016.

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Relevance: Ensuring that the physiotherapy profession is representative of the populations it interacts with intertwines with UK government and higher education Widening Participation strategy. Do admissions to physiotherapy education remain, in the majority the domain for white, middle class female students? Purpose: Physiotherapy has long been a profession dominated by female practitioners, despite increasing male entrants in recent years. Ethnic diversity within the profession is growing but the majority of students in physiotherapy education are white (CSP, 2015). In line with Widening Access strategies (Cardiff University, 2011) and following the response to the Francis Report (2013), which stated that potential healthcare students should be better screened, Cardiff University implemented changes to the application screening processes for physiotherapy admissions. These changes included the method of scoring an application statement and the introduction of a panel interview. The purpose of this initial investigation is to investigate the impact these changes have had upon the resultant make-up of the cohort of students. Approach/Evaluation: A retrospective review of the 2014 intake to Physiotherapy was undertaken. Details of the characteristics of all applicants were identified (Gender, Postcode, Local Education Authority, Socio-economic Grouping, Schooling, Disability, Ethnicity and Age) at each stage of the admissions process – initial application, those who were offered places, those who replied and those enrolled onto the respective courses. Outcome: With respect to age, socio-economic grouping and postcode area, the percentages of each remained consistent through the screening out processes – e.g. 30% of total applicants and 26% of those enrolled were >21years old. Initially 59% of all applicants were female, but 76% of the resultant cohort were female. 97% of enrolled students were white and it has proved difficult to track this characteristic earlier in the process. Disability disclosures were low and not mandatory therefore difficult to fully evaluate, however 8% of initial applicants and 5% of enrolled students did disclose a disability. Discussion & Conclusions: The majority of characteristics remain fairly static through each stage of the screening process for Physiotherapy applications at Cardiff University, suggesting that the processes on the whole are non-discriminatory. There is however an anomaly with gender that suggests females are more likely to be successful in the process than their counterparts. Reasons for this remain unclear, but may be related to actual academic achievement, different writing style within their personal statement, better performance at interview, or unconscious bias in the assessment/scoring process. Ethnic diversity is low at all stages of the admissions process, and lower than the UK higher education average for physiotherapy (CSP, 2015). Further investigation into these anomalies is warranted. Impact & Implications: This initial investigation has demonstrated that there is a changing face of the physiotherapy profession at entry level, but that more could be done to improve participation within ethnic minority groups. Additionally, further work to address the relatively poor performance by male applicants needs to be undertaken. Enhancing the diversity at undergraduate level would only serve to boost the profession’s cultural competence as a whole, but efforts to reduce unconscious bias within education must be made. 3 Key words: Education Diversity Participation This work was completed in the absence of specific funding. Ethical approval: Ethical approval for the study was gained via the Cardiff University Business School (CARBS) ethical review committee. This retrospective study has been undertaken with all subjects remaining anonymous throughout. At no point did any of the applicants gain or benefit from the investigation. Any action as a result of this investigation will not affect any of the enrolled students on the course. The aim of the work is to investigate the social justice of the admissions process at Cardiff University in line with Widening Access policy.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 May 2017
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 09:47

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