Mastermind: shifting paradigms in Master’s admissions

Mastermind: shifting paradigms in Master’s admissions

With an increasing number of internationally mobile students applying to Master’s programmes in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), redefining admissions processes became a greater challenge for European higher education institutions (HEIs). It also came with many new questions for Master’s level academic directors: Which criteria should I use in my admissions process? Which ones should I value most? How do I assess students with very diverse backgrounds? How can I improve the diversity of students within my programme?

In the first drafts of the Mastermind project’s session proposal for this year’s EAIE conference – now called Master’s admissions for a diverse international classroom: available tools and data sets – the speakers used “Fixing a hole” as a working title. This was more of a convenient shortcut to paying tribute to the Beatles-related ‘Imagine…’ theme of the conference than an assessment of the Beatles’ importance in European higher education. But it also seemed like an adequate way to demonstrate how Mastermind was identifying and addressing the challenges faced by HEIs in internationalising Master’s level admissions.

Help! I need a survey!

Everyone seemed to agree that international admissions had become more challenging, so it was necessary for the Mastermind project team to identify exactly to what extent this new reality was a real problem – both for admissions teams and students. To tackle these questions, two large-scale surveys were conducted by the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) and StudyPortals. The findings brought a very new perspective on how challenging admissions were both for students and admissions officers. The results Irina Ferencz, Deputy Director of ACA, will share during the session will certainly bring elements for admissions officers to better understand the challenges faced by students when applying to European HEIs.

New tools and data sets are… getting better

Kees Kouwenaar, Senior Advisor International Strategy at VU Amsterdam – and the ‘mind behind Mastermind’ – will be presenting on the progress made by the Mastermind project, and the guiding tools it has published. The key message of the paradigm shift behind the mastermind project is about competency-based assessment over the diploma recognition approach that has been at work in Europe until now. The experience Kees developed in all available tools for admissions officers will be of great use to the audience.

Also joining the panel, ETS Global’s Government and Academic Relations Director, Mavi Calabrese, will bring expertise from the standardised testing perspective. These tests, notably the TOEFL® and GRE®, have gained proven track records and validity studies of their value in academic admissions. As assessment tools increasingly used by higher education institutions for their international admissions, standardised tests also offer many resources for admissions professionals, including new data sets and tools to better assess international applicants.

Where practitioners and experts come together

Mastermind’s methodology requires a strong participation from individual higher education institutions, national level actors, and European academic networks. The project is also committed to becoming a major tool in the hands of admissions officers and academic programme directors. Its methodology and purpose have led the session speakers to choose for an interactive session, making it a unique chance to participate in the ground-breaking work of the project. This approach made the choice of Chair – Christian Tauch, Head of the German Rector’s Conference Education division – even more meaningful. Having worked at all three levels, in several different institutions, his experience would unquestionably prove fundamental in driving an excellent session requiring strong audience participation.

You are certain to leave our session with many new ideas and tools for your institution to implement. So be sure to join the Mastermind session, taking place today at 14:00 at EAIE Liverpool 2016 in order to play an active role in improving international Master’s admissions!
Gildas is Academic Relations Specialist at ETS Global, the Netherlands

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