Admissions Policy


Introduction

Mattersey Hall is a Christian college whose main aim is to help to train, equip and form the next generation of Christian Leaders. In line with the historic aim of the College, this includes providing appropriate training for ministry (understood in the widest sense of that term) and the development of critical skills that enable students to engage with, analyse and evaluate theory and praxis. We do this through a range of programmes, significant among which are the academic programmes – BA, GradDip, MA, DMin, MPhil and PhD – all of which are validated by the University of Chester.

Our admissions criteria are in line with our declared mission statement. We expect, normally, to admit students who can demonstrate both their suitability to train for, or to further their studies in, Christian ministry, and the ability to complete the academic programme.1

Although Mattersey Hall seeks to offer an integrated programme, where formation and academic study go hand in hand, in the case of on-campus undergraduate students, many of the training and formation elements form part of Mattersey Hall’s internal College Diploma, which all on-campus students sign up to, and which runs parallel to the degree programme.

For Undergraduate students already on the programme who are unable to continue with the College  Diploma, there is opportunity either to interrupt studies and return to the full programme at a later stage (in consultation with the College’s Senior Management) or to complete the degree, though without the training and formation elements, via Distance Learning

Admissions Criteria

In line with the two key admissions criteria – normally, a demonstration of suitability to train for, or further their studies in, Christian leadership and ministry, and the ability to complete the academic programme (though see note 1 below) – we require the following for all students:

  • Sympathy with the ethos and priorities of Mattersey Hall.
  • Two satisfactory references, including at least one pastoral reference. 2

 [1] We will also consider candidates from non-Church backgrounds, where they have legitimate reasons for wanting to study within the particular ethos of Mattersey Hall, and are aware of the implications of studying within that ethos.
[2] The pastoral reference will normally be from a Church leader. Where a candidate is not from a Church background another appropriate character reference will be acceptable.

For students who wish to join the BA programme, the following would also apply:

  • Entrance requirements for admission to the BA (Hons) programme in Year 1 are, normally,
    2 A-levels or equivalent.
  • Mature applicants (21+), who do not have formal qualifications, may be admitted to the
    programme if the Admissions Department and Board of Studies deem them able to complete
    the programme successfully. As part of this assessment applicants will normally be required
    to submit an essay on a Biblical subject.
    • For on-campus students, and for UK based distance-learning students, normally a
    satisfactory interview. This will include a DBS check to ensure prospective students’
    suitability for working with children and other vulnerable groups.
    • Prospective students are also required to demonstrate an appropriate proficiency in the
    English language (see English Language Requirements, below).

For students who wish to join the MA programme, the following are also required:

  • A recognised first degree in Theology or a cognate subject (normally second class honours or above); or a first degree in a non-theological area and a successfully completed Graduate Diploma; or at least two years of senior leadership experience in a Church or mission context.
    • Prospective students are also required to demonstrate an appropriate proficiency in the English language (see English Language Requirements, below).

Information regarding Postgraduate Research Degrees (DMin, MPhil, PhD) are available separately. Students on these programmes need, also, to be approved by the University of Chester.

Applications for Accredited Prior Certificated Learning and Accredited Prior Experiential Learning will be considered. These will need to be submitted to the University of Chester for approval.

The Admissions Process

Applications are made, in the first instance, to the Admissions Team, which is headed up by the Vice Principal. Applications, together with references, are then submitted for approval to the Board of Studies, which decides, on the basis of the published criteria (which includes the content of references), whether or not to proceed with the application and whether or not to invite the applicant for interview.

Applicants will be given official notification of the outcome of their application in writing. Any obligations, in terms of acceptance fees, payment of course fees, and any other obligations placed on prospective students will be advised at the time. Unsuccessful applicants will receive a courteous and respectful explanation of the decision, explained in terms of the entry requirements, references and any other relevant criteria. The letter will also contain grounds on which an appeal against the decision may be considered.

The interview serves two important functions, and students being called for interview will be made aware of these things in advance. First, the interview is informational – it gives students information, and answers questions about Mattersey Hall and enables students to decide whether or not Mattersey Hall is the place for them. The interview will also usually include a tour of the College campus. Second, the interview is evaluative. Students who are called for interview will already have had their qualifications and references accepted; the purpose of the interview is to confirm the applicants’ suitability, and whether he or she is serious about study and is committed to completing the programme. We will also check certificates, passport details, eligibility for student finance, etc. An interview may also give a borderline applicant the opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for the programme.

Students are usually given an indication of the outcome of the interview before leaving and this will be followed by a letter, usually within two weeks, confirming that outcome. Where an applicant has not been successful, the reasons for arriving at that decision will be explained courteously. Information will also be given about the grounds, and procedure, for making an appeal against the decision (see below).

Successful applicants will be given information about the College, the course and assessment, timetables, key dates for the year – and particularly details of events at the start of the year – including when the student needs to arrive at the College, and the timetable for the induction process (which takes place during the first week). Much of this information is available on the College website, and successful applicants may be given details of how to access the website rather than given a hard copy. Our Disability Officer will also be in touch with details of DSA.

Once a student has been accepted, the Admissions Team will maintain regular contact. This is particularly important for those who may be accepted a long time before he or she begins the programme of study.

Appeals following an unsuccessful admissions outcome

Where an application has not been successful, we aim to handle any appeal based on the grounds for the decision, or on the way the application was processed, as efficiently as possible. All appeals will be treated seriously and in an understanding way; and there will be no repercussions or discrimination as a result of making an appeal.

A letter explaining the reasons for rejecting an application will be sent, normally within two weeks of the application being received, or in cases where the applicant has been invited for interview, within two weeks of the interview. The unsuccessful applicant may request further explanation, and this, again, will normally be provided within two weeks of the request being received by Mattersey Hall. Any appeal must be made in writing, by the applicant him- or herself, within three weeks of receiving the original decision. After that, an appeal may not be considered.

Applicants may appeal a decision where new information, not included in the original application, is available. Additional letters of support and further references may also be provided. An appeal might also be made in cases where evidence can be given that the application was not processed correctly. Appeals against decisions based on professional judgement of an applicant’s ability to
complete the academic programme or the College Diploma will be considered, only in the light of additional information.

We will normally respond to an appeal, in writing, within three weeks. If elements of the appeal require further investigation, that will be explained, and a date given by which a full response to the appeal might be expected.

English Language Requirements

It is a requirement from 2016 that all students admitted on to courses designated for student finance at Mattersey Hall, have sufficient competence in the English language to engage with, and benefit from, their chosen programme of study.

The guidelines have set the minimum language requirements at CEFR level B2 (which has been assessed to be equivalent to ELTS 6.0 (UG) and IELTS 6.5 (PG).

Students for whom English is not their first language

Our current admissions policy (in line with that of our validating University) requires that students for whom English is not their first language demonstrate proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.0 (UG) and IELTS 6.5 (PG).

Students for whom English is their first language

In the past there have been no specific English language requirements for students for whom English is their first language.

In the academic year 2016–2017, only our UG programmes are designated for student finance, and compliance with English language requirements for students admitted to those programmes will be monitored as part of our annual redesignation process for 2017–2018 (which begins in September 2016). It is our intention to seek designation for our PG provision from 2017, and want to bring PG applicants into line with the English language requirements as far as possible in 2016–2017, and wholly into line with those requirements for admissions in 2017–2018.

In our view, and pending further guidance, we do not consider it reasonable or practical to require all applicants for whom English is their first language to undergo an English language test designed to assess the proficiency of those for whom English is not their first language (e.g. IELTS, CEFR). We do recognise, though, that some of those who do speak English as a first language may not have the required proficiency.

According to one guide, those proficient at CEFR level B2 (Vantage) ‘can use English effectively, with some fluency, in a range of contexts’.3 This is further elaborated; they

  • Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation.
    • Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
    • Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

This policy amendment formalises procedures that allow us to assess whether applicants demonstrate appropriate proficiency. Where, in our view, they are not appropriately proficient, we will require applicants to undergo further English language study.

[3] Introductory Guide to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for English Language Teachers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), p. 2.
[4] Introductory Guide, p. 5.

 

Proof of proficiency – UG

Currently, at UG level, we admit two groups of students: those with appropriate Level 3 qualifications (A-levels, etc.), and mature students (over 21) who do not require formal academic qualifications. In all cases students are formally interviewed by admissions staff.

It seems reasonable to assume that those who have Level 3 qualifications, which have been taught and assessed in English, satisfy the English language requirements.

For others, the level of English language proficiency can be assessed through:

  1. The application form, which requires a written personal statement, outlining aspects of the applicant’s life journey up to the point of application.
  2. A formal interview, which includes discussion of the course and aspects of its content.
  3. An assignment on a subject related to the programme of study, which is submitted to and marked by College faculty.

In our view, those three things allow us to assess whether or not an applicant satisfies the key
criteria for CEFR level B2.

In the past these things have allowed us to assess proficiency in English informally. This amendment is intended to make that assessment more formal, and to ensure that they include elements that allow admissions staff to make an informed decision as to whether or not applicants do have the required English language proficiency before being admitted to the programme.

 

Proof of proficiency – PG

There are, currently, two entry routes to our PG programmes:

  1. with a recognised bachelor’s degree;
  2. with no formal academic background, but with at least two years of leadership
    experience in a Church or Christian institution.

As with UG applicants, it seems reasonable to assume that those who have Level 3 and above qualifications, and in particular a bachelor’s degree, which have been taught and assessed in English, satisfy the English language requirements.

For those with no formal academic background, as with UG applicants, we ask for a personal statement and also an essay related to the chosen programme of study. We will also carry out formal interviews of all PG applicants.