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When a lottery is the right way to share, select, decide


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2003 20May: Two Yorkshire Unis choose students by lottery

Posted by kleroterion on Sunday, 20 December 2009

Leeds Metropolitan and Huddersfield universities have both introduced computer generated ‘random selection’ for their physiotherapy courses. About 20 applications are received for every place on the course.

From: Conall Boyle [mailto:conallboyle@hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, 20 May 2004 7:22 PM
To: alan.lockard@mail.cc.trincoll.edu; b.goodwin@uea.ac.uk; bmartin@uow.edu.au; hey.wainy@virgin.net; julian@mostly.com; Carson; mike@allot.org.uk; pjd.drenth@psy.vu.nl; pvjones@friends-classics.demon.co.uk
Subject: Yorkshire universities choose students by lot

Hi Kleroterions!

To London yesterday (19th May), to a splendid Conference at the Houses of Parliament on ‘Appointment by Lot: A role for the citizen in governance?’ A full report will follow in a later email. [I’m sorry to say it didn’t! Conall]

Meanwhile, there’s been an outbreak common-sense in Yorkshire, as reported by the BBC and elsewhere:

University admissions ‘a lottery’

Two West Yorkshire universities have admitted they use a lottery system to choose between applicants for heavily over-subscribed courses.

Leeds Metropolitan and Huddersfield universities have both introduced computer generated ‘random selection’ for their physiotherapy courses.

About 20 applications are received for every place on the course.

The universities say the system is the fairest way to give A-level pupils an equal chance of admission.

Professor Simon Lee, the vice-chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan said: “If we whittled it down to those who’ve done terrifically well at school, they’ve shown an interest in it, they’ve got an aptitude for it…we’ve still got 600 people for 40 places.

“I think this is, at the moment, the best way of doing it.

“It’s a problem for Oxbridge, it’s a problem for us in particular courses and we are passionately committed to fairness.”

But Tom Wong, the communications officer for the students union – Leeds University Union – said: “For students’ futures to be decided on a lottery is totally unacceptable. It cheapens the concept of education and makes a mockery of ‘fairness’ in the current system.

“If universities are over-subscribed then each and every able applicant should be taken through a thorough application procedure. This is simply laziness on the part of the universities.”

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/04/27 12:45:30 GMT


Conall Boyle

Margam Park Village, West Glamorgan

Website: http://www.conallboyle.com


Hiya Conall

This had been reported recently in The Australian (a national newspaper), in its Higher Education Supplement. Impressive news!



Dr L. Carson

Internship Co-ordinator

Senior Lecturer in Applied Politics

Government and International Relations (H04)

School of Economics and Political Science

The University of Sydney 2006

—–personal comment to me from the VC of Huddersfield:(later)(I met him socially once)

Hi Connall,
I remember my visit well and had heard about you new life.
Physiotherapy is massively oversubscribed here and we end up with 600 plus equally suitable candidates for about 40 places. We could ratchet up the academic requirements to further discriminate but that would exclude many very appropriate candidates. So I gather that there is a lottery effectively and that to judge on the basis of the timing of an application, which has been suggested to us, is illegal as far as UCAS is concerned. I doubt that senate was involved as we run quite a devolved system here. The course team here say that if you can come up with any suggestions fro improving selection they would be delighted to hear about it!
If you want to contact someone directly then I would suggest Penny Renwick here via. e-mail.
I’m recovering from quite a big operation. Good luck with the research

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