11.7 Decisions

Decisions are recorded on the relevant Decision Form. For straightforward PGT applications these should be made within a 2 weeks of receiving the application form, barring any University Closed dates and Bank Holidays. For straightforward PGR applications these should be made by the within 4 weeks of the Department receiving the application form, barring any University Closed dates, Bank Holidays or when a pool of eligible candidates are required for a project studentship or a studentship competition. Fees status, UKVI issues, previous criminal convictions, missing documents or research proposal, …etc., can delay the process.

All intending postgraduate students, including members of staff, are required to apply to the Postgraduate Admissions Office. This should be done at least four weeks in advance of the intended start date although a minority leave this to the last minute, even during Registration Week.

As there is a cut-off date three weeks prior to the intake for the issuing of Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for non-EEA nationals who require Tier 4 visas, they should have applied by July for the late-September entry. Applying at least 2 months in advance is advisable for any non-EEA student unless they are seeking a PGR course in a subject that is subject to ATAS, where applying 4 months in advance of the start date is advisable.

Departments should ensure that there are back-up selectors in place for PGT and especially PGR applications.

PGCE applicants should have applied by early July, although some courses are closed to new applicants earlier in the year. Decisions must be made on the UCAS web-link system within 40 working days. Applicants must attend an interview before an offer can be made.

Full-time and part-time students

All applications must be sent direct to the Postgraduate Admissions Office. The process for dealing with applications is as follows:

1. Postgraduate application form, reference, personal statement, and other materials, received either directly from applicant or on-line by Postgraduate Admissions. PGR applicants (with the exception of Mathematics & Physics) must also submit a 1,000 to 1,500 word research proposal.
2. Application forms are date stamped and an automated e-mail is sent to the applicant to inform them that their application has been received and is being considered.
3. A file is created for the applicant and their details are entered onto the Postgraduate Admissions Database on AStRA PG Admissions. This is created automatically for on-line applications.
4. Staff at PG Admissions assess the applicants fees status, eligibility for matriculation, ability to meet specified academic and English language entry requirements, comparability of non-UK qualifications and UKVI compliance issues.

5.    i PGT

a) Departmental Decisions

One copy of the application form, plus references and attachments together with a decision form are sent to the relevant departmental selector in a brown re-usable envelope. A note is made on the Decision Form regarding the applicant’s matriculation status, English language ability, possible funding, and any other relevant information that Postgraduate Admissions.

b) Centralised Decisions

Decisions are made centrally by PG Admissions staff where the applicant clearly meets the entry requirements. A matrix for criteria to accept or reject applicants centrally has been agreed with relevant selectors for specified PGT courses.

ii PGR

One copy of the application form, research proposal plus references and attachments together with a decision form are sent to the relevant departmental selector in a brown re-usable envelope. A note is made on the Decision Form regarding the applicant’s matriculation status, English language ability, possible funding, and any other relevant information that Postgraduate Admissions. All applications are sent to selectors as soon as at least one reference has been received, although they do not have to make a decision on the basis of just one reference.

Where one or more references are missing, Postgraduate Admissions Office sends an automated e-mail to the applicant reminding them that their application will not be considered until both references have been received. An application without references is considered incomplete and remains in the Postgraduate Admissions Office. In practice, however, Postgraduate Admissions will forward applications to departmental selectors upon the receipt of one letter of reference so that departments will be empowered to accept an applicant who clearly meets our entrance requirements.

Postgraduate Admissions does not distinguish between a letter of reference and a testimonial in terms of considering an application complete and forwarding it to selectors. Unless a central decision has been made, Postgraduate Admissions does not open confidential references that are marked as such. Therefore, selectors will know the difference between a confidential reference and a testimonial because testimonials will not be in sealed envelopes. Most applicants e-mail scanned references, showing an official letterhead and signature, to our office. Some referees send their references separately, sometimes as text within an e-mail. We would only accept these if the e-mail can be verified from that university’s official website.

Important: Postgraduate Admissions should be contacted immediately if departmental selectors suspect any tampering with a letter of reference or transcripts or are sceptical of their authenticity.

POINTS TO NOTE:

i. PGR applications should be screened within 5 working days (i.e. research proposal and academic background).
ii. Potential supervisors should be identified and contact made within 2 weeks. Circulating the research proposal electronically is recommended.
iii. Interview with applicant held face-to-face or via Skype to discuss proposal and explore funding opportunities (within 4 weeks of receipt of application unless a gathered field is required for scholarship competitions)
iv. Departments must ensure that the Selector, Administrator or Secretary maintains a log of who has been sent a PGR application for review and its return date.

6. Selectors decide on the basis of the information available whether to accept or reject the applicant. No applicant PGR should be offered a place without at least one supporting reference and being interviewed. No applicant will be admitted without having received a satisfactory reference in support of the application. Selectors may set conditions relating to academic matters, e.g. upper second class honours. Selectors should make their decisions within 2 weeks of receipt of the application for PGT applications and within 4 weeks for PGR applications.

Important: PGR only - At least two members of departmental staff must be involved in the decision making process for applicants for research places. These should be the main departmental selector and the prospective research supervisor or the Head of Department. These personnel must have attended relevant training courses.

7. Selectors decide on academic grounds whether to accept an applicant. English language is assessed in Postgraduate Admissions and the Offer Decision Form will indicate if the applicant has the required proficiency. If the 'unsatisfactory' box is checked, there is no need for selectors to stipulate an English language condition: it will be done automatically. Nevertheless, Selectors are entitled to impose a condition if they have any valid concerns.

8. Departments must interview research applicants. Where face-to-face interviews are not possible, departments should consider Skype interviews. Please note that bone fide applicants for postgraduate study may claim all or part of the travel expenses incurred for interview at AU. Forms exist for PG Interview Travel Expenses Claims are available from the Postgraduate Admissions Office. Interviews are not only an essential part of the decision process but an important conversion opportunity.

9. Postgraduate Admissions should be notified if an applicant has special requirements and is academically acceptable, but the department is concerned that it will not be able to accommodate their individual needs. Disability Officers at Student Support will be alerted automatically once an application where a disability or special need is entered on AStRA PG Admissions. They will then contact the applicant to discuss their needs in order to make reasonable adjustment to provide the services that a disabled person requires. See Appendix .

10. Decisions taken by departments must be made on academic grounds only. If an applicant has a criminal conviction, the PVC (Student Experience & International) will make a risk assessment based on available facts and then decide whether or not it is possible to proceed with the admissions process. Such decisions will be taken in light of our duty of care to registered students of AU and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. For applicants for PGCE courses, our duty of care extends to schoolchildren within our partnership schools.

11. For PGR only. The Decision Form incorporates two additional responses for your departmental reply that are relevant only to research applicants. (See Appendix I). The name of a proposed supervisor should be given at this stage or if this is not possible you may state from which research group a supervisor will be chosen. You should also confirm whether the facilities and resources for the proposed research project are sufficient. Bench Fees (up to £7.5K per annum) are only applicable to specific research areas within IBERS. Exemption from probation period must be made prior to admissions but ideally at the decision stage. This cannot be reverted once registered.

12. Once a decision has been reached selectors should send one copy of the Decision Form, stating clearly the decision and any academic conditions, to Postgraduate Admissions. The second copy of the Decision Form, the application form, the references should, etc., should be kept in the department for future reference. An electronic Decision Form has been trialled on AStRA PG Admissions and will become active once two parallel projects have been completed.

13. The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) applies visa nationals in specified science subject areas. Please see www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/after-you-apply/ . Currently, we only have PGR courses that are ATAS sensitive. Before an offer can be issued, we will require the relevant HESA JACS code (note that these differ from AU Study Scheme Codes – www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/howtoapply/before-you-apply/jacs-au-courses/) together with a 6 to 7 sentence mini-abstract for the applicants proposed research. The applicant will require this information in order to apply for ATAS clearance and obtain a certificate prior to applying for a visa. This process can take several weeks so it is essential to supply this information as soon as a decision has been made and submitted with the completed Decision Form. PG Admissions usually e-mail the named supervisor for this information if it has not been received with the Decision Form. Securing ATAS clearance will be a condition of the offer.

14. Applicants wishing to transfer credits for taught modules onto AU taught Masters schemes must submit the standard application form and specify how many credits they wish to be considered for transfer. They must submit a transcript for the relevant studies together with the syllabus for them (either as pdf or provide the URL). Credit transfer should be resolved at the decision stage but certainly before Registration. The Credit Transfer Form should be returned to the Postgraduate Admissions Office together with the Decision Form. See Appendix II.

15. If a departmental studentship is to be offered, the Departmental Studentship Pro-forma should also be completed and returned with the Decision Form. See Appendix III.

16. All applicants who are offered a place are sent an offer pack (either by post or e-mail) which includes the formal offer letter and for Aberystwyth campus based programmes, a copy of the Information for Postgraduates Applicants (now available in UK/EU (Welsh or English) and International versions). PGCE applicants are offered a place via UCAS web-link and subsequently receive an offer letter.

17. The School of Education and Lifelong Learning administer the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for new PGCE students in the summer prior to the start of the course.
Points to Note for PGR Applications:

(a) If you are sent an application that is not relevant to your department, please return it to us with any suggestions you may have as to a more appropriate department. This happens more often with research candidates for Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences and Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, but can happen in other areas too. Please do not forward it on to another department yourself as it makes it difficult for us to keep track of the application.

(b) Often applications will be sent to you with just one supporting reference. The second reference will be forwarded to you when it is received by the Postgraduate Admissions Office. If, however, any reference is sent direct to you, please ensure that you inform us so that this may be logged accordingly.

c) Where a research proposal details a project that cannot be appropriately supervised within your department, please consult with the Director of Postgraduate Studies within your Institute regarding possible alternatives. If the project is not feasible within your Institute, please forward the Decision Form to the PG Admissions Office with your comments and suggestions. Please liaise with the applicant prior to this as they may be willing to amend their research proposal in-line with supervisory expertise at AU.