The increasing diversity of applicants for Master’s programmes and the desire to have a diverse classroom are challenging the way that admission is currently handled in many universities. Awareness of the risks of rejecting students who would actually have done well as a student and would have become great Alumns, is growing.
Transparency to prospective students – and among those involved in the admission process – about what students have to be good at (and how good) leads to better self-selection and offers valuable information for the implementation of the curriculum.
For this, a coherent framework can help: of the elements that students need to know, understand and be able to do when they enter their Master´s programme.
Such a coherent framework has been developed and tested in the Mastermind Europe project – initiated as an Erasmus+ project.
For anyone dealing with the complex issue of admitting students with very diverse backgrounds to Masters programmes. That is, anyone who feels that there may be a need to improve their admission process, for whatever reason.
Because evaluating students on their Bachelor’s degree only is no longer sufficient in a changing admission landscape. The paper document is not always a full reflection of the full range of qualities of the student. And assessment of documents from different cultures and disciplines is often imperfect -or even wrong.
Using its Coherent Admission Framework, Mastermind Europe can help you to better define what you are looking for, and what you are looking at in candidates. It helps you to define the ‘learning incomes” of your Master’s programme: what you need your incoming class to know, understand and be able to do when they start.
It is a freely available only toolkit, with Guiding Tools, a Manual and background material. You can use on your own+ but if you want some outside expert and catalyst in the process, you can engage the help of our expert consultants.
The Mastermind Europe approach
With support from the ERASMUS+ project, Mastermind Europe has developed an new and more flexible approach to selection and admission of students to Master’s programmes. A new approach is necessary because Master’s programmes are increasing becoming ‘divorced’ from the one-and-only Bachelor’s programme to which they once belonged. And it is necessary because ‘soft skills’ are getting more important as part of the learning outcomes of Master’s programmes and therefore also as part of the entrance requirements.
The Mastermind Europe helps Master’s programmes to find out what they are looking for underneath the elements they are looking at in the admission process. It helps to understand and apply the difference between admission criteria (what students have to be good at), norms/levels (how good students have to be), and testing mechanisms (how to determine if students are good enough).
The Mastermind Europe approach helps to handle the difference between subject-related knowledge & skills, general academic competencies, personal competencies & traits, and language competencies.
It helps to describe in precise terms what students need to know, be able to do and be able to understand at the start of a specific Master´s programme: it helps to articulate the “learning incomes” as the opposite of ‘learning outcomes’ which show what the students achieve at the end of a learning process.
NB It would not make sense to say about a Master’s programme that it has changed its admission to “fit the Mastermind Europe model or method”. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Master’s admission and the assessment of the relevant competencies; each Master’s programme will draw different lessons from its use.
The Mastermind Europe toolkit
In an ERASMUS+ supported project, Mastermind Europe has developed and tested a toolkit and expert pool to help apply the Mastermind Europe approach at the level of individual Master’s programmes. The toolkit is freely available on the website and consists of:
- Six Guiding Tools: on Coherent Admission, Subject knowledge, Academic Competence, Personal Competence, Language Skills, and the Admission Process. Each Guiding tool offers information on the subject from practice and research, offers a conceptual framework to articulate specific.
The use of the Guiding Tools is explained in the Mastermind Europe Manual and the Mastermind Europe Approach documents. The Coherent Admission Matrix can be used to analyse the current admission practice and identify quick wins to improve the quality of admission, transparency for prospective students, and the possibility to assess the predictive value of your admissions´ practice.
- Three reports providing a more solid evidence base on the facts, perceptions and explanations of the higher obstacles for outsiders than insiders to get into Master´s programmes for which they are qualified.
- An online Repository of documents (published and grey literature) on various relevant aspects such as ‘recognition’, ‘degree profiles’, ‘graduate education’, ‘competencies’ and others.
The Mastermind expert pool
The toolkit is freely available at this website; but experience shows that some Master’s coordinators would appreciate external expert support in using the toolkit to analyse their Master´s programme and identify the low-hanging fruit to improve quality, transparency or predictive value of their admissions. External support gets you the expertise – and experience in applying it to individual Master’s programmes. It may help you to organise more momentum than would be possible with just internal meetings.
To meet the demand for external support, Mastermind Europe set up a pool of experts to assist in the application of the approach and tools by individual Master´s programmes. To date, 19 different Master´s programmes in various European countries and in the US have worked with Mastermind Europe and each identified their own quick wins. What they all have in common is a refreshingly new way to look at – and think about – Master’s admission for a diverse international classroom.
The Mastermind Europe structure
To continue development and application of the Mastermind Europe expertise after the conclusion of the ERASMUS+ project, Mastermind Europe has transformed its ERASMUS+ consortium into a new inter-organisational consortium, led by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
All consortium members are shows at the bottom of this page.
The Mastermind expert service
If you are responsible for one or more Master’s programmes and think that these programmes might profit from the Mastermind approach and toolkit, have a look at the Guiding Tools and the Manual.
If you feel that you may indeed want the external support in using Mastermind Europe to improve admission, you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The service is set up on a not-for-profit, cost-recovery basis. Where possible, we will use regional experts to ensure local context knowledge and keep costs in check.