About us

Supporting Professionalism in Admissions (SPA) is the independent and objective voice on UK higher education admissions. SPA promotes professionalism, fair admissions and access to higher education by developing and leading on evidence-based good practice in the recruitment and selection of students. This is accomplished through our strategic aims and objectives that are shaped by our national independent Steering Group.

The SPA team has extensive experience of working in admissions, recruitment and widening participation within the HE sector. SPA’s expertise, independence and objectivity is valued by HE providers and has enabled us to successfully develop the connections and sector confidence to act as a broker between both makers and implementers of policy in UK HE admissions.

SPA’s good practice resources support a wide range of staff in all types of HE provider when developing and reviewing their own admissions policies and procedures. Our good practice is based on evidence from:

  • HE providers, stakeholders, national organisations, policy bodies and others UK-wide
  • Conferences, events and discussions with HE colleagues
  • SPA surveys, research, and from HE providers’ published policies and procedures

Our resources include good practice statements, online toolkit modules, research, presentations, templates and checklists, and briefings.

If you are new to SPA, or new to an admissions role, take a look at our welcome pack which includes introductory information.

In addition to our resources, SPA offers a range of direct support to HE providers across the UK, including an enquiries service and visits to HE providers. See our Enquiries page for more information.

SPA is based at the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) in Cheltenham and our funding is from UCAS.  In July 2017, UCAS announced its intention to withdraw funding from SPA, further information can be found on our Funding page.

SPA’s history

SPA was set up in 2006, following the Admissions to Higher Education Review Steering Group report, Fair admissions to higher education: recommendations for good practice (also known as the Schwartz report)  in 2004. The report recommended that there should be a UK-wide central source of expertise and advice on admissions issues. This was taken forward by Universities UK (UUK) and GuildHE with the four UK funding councils. In 2005 an independent national Steering Group for SPA was established and in early 2006 Janet Graham was appointed as the programme’s Director. 

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