Important Admissions update

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Welcome to the second edition of our agents newsletter which aims to bring you up to date with our postgraduate admissions system to help you work most effectively with us over the coming months. It also contains important information regarding undergraduate applicants at the end.

From Virginia Irwin, Deputy Head: International Office

I would like to take this opportunity to update you on important changes in our admission procedures for 2009 entry. As you will all be aware, the new Points Based System for student visas means all universities have had to make a lot of changes to their application and admissions procedures. At the same time Bath has had a 22% increase in applications for 2009 and also a reorganisation in our admissions teams. Our Undergraduate and Graduate Offices (now called Post-Graduate Admissions) have been made into one office under the management of Ms Lee Hennessy (Deputy Head of Recruitment and Admissions).

We are working as fast as we can to ensure as smooth a system as possible but I think we are all aware that 2009 will be a challenging one, not just for University of Bath but for UK universities in general and we do ask for your patience and understanding as we all try to learn the new system. I am confident that both the changes we have made at Bath and the new visa system will definitely lead to long-term improvements for overseas students but in the short-term things will be ‘interesting’ for us all.

Here is a summary of the changes we have made so far. Of course you are our eyes and ears in the markets and will be experiencing the changes first-hand, so please let me know personally if you have any news, updates, queries or concerns and I will raise these with Lee. You can feedback to me and the rest of the international team (Jo, Andy and Zoe) via the comments reply box at the bottom of this page.

Closing Dates for Postgraduate Applications

We would strongly advise all our partners to send applications for post-graduate taught courses from international applicants who require a visa before 30 June 2009 as we cannot guarantee that we can process applications after this date. We would like as far as possible to use our resources to offer our current applicants a good service in a challenging year rather than seek large numbers of new late-cycle applications.

We will also require that all existing overseas post-graduate taught applicants meet all the conditions of their offer by 1 August 2009 except for applicants who are studying on a pre-sessional programme in our English Language Centre.

The following programmes are already closed to new international applicants who require a visa:

• MA Interpreting and Translating
• Euromasters with Transatlantic Track (The non- US Euromasters deadline is 31 May 2009)
• Please note that the School of Management website gives a deadline of 31 July 2009. However, as above, we would strongly advise you to meet the 30 June 2009  for all your applications as in practice it is unlikely that an international student requiring a visa will be able to get the necessary paperwork in time if they apply after 30 June.

Postgraduate Application Form

From 1 May 2009 we will require all our agents to use the online application form. We will no longer accept initial application forms sent as email attachments either via the International Office or Post-Graduate Admissions Office and applicants who use this method will be asked to re-apply online. Hard copy posted applications are the only acceptable alternative in exceptional cases.

Please ensure that your applicants use the agency address as the correspondence address.  We know that some partners are concerned that an online application may make it more difficult for us to identify the originating agency for commission purposes. Please be assured that we have also set up a new ‘agent’ field in our system so that we will be able to clearly identify all applications you send us online as belonging to your office(s).

All applicants will need to submit the following in support of their application. These can be uploaded as part of the online application form.
• Copy or scan of degree certificate and/or copy or scan of transcript
• Copy or scan of English language result
• Copy or scan of ONE academic reference (and complete the contact details boxes for referees on the form)* References should be ‘professional looking’ such as: scans of typed letters on headed paper with original signatures from the appropriate University and full referee contact details provided on the form.

We are changing all our web information and the online form as fast as we can but if you do see references to ‘original or authenticated’ documents on the online form or website please IGNORE THIS.

Applications sent before 1 May 2009 by ‘old’ methods will be processed as usual. You do not need to send again via online.

Supporting Documents with Initial Postgraduate Application

From 1 May 2009 we will no longer be checking the authenticity of documents (transcripts, degree certificates, references, English certificates) at application or offer stage. We shall obviously expect our agents to act as the first check for forged documents at the application stage.  The second check will be at the point the student applies for a visa when the Entry Clearance Officer will check for forgeries against the list of documents specified by the University in the visa letter. The third check will be once the student arrives at the University. Every student will be required to present a valid passport with visa and all original qualification certificates (as specified in our visa letter) as part of the registration process.

Of course the changes only apply to the stage at which we will require proof of original qualifications. Our academic or language entry requirements have not changed!

If the candidate’s results meet our entry requirements, then the appropriate offer letter (conditional or unconditional) will be issued. In other words, the only types of conditions will be academic or language conditions. We will no longer issue offer letters which have ‘documentary’ conditions such as ‘resend references on headed paper’.

Individual Departments are allowed to request further information from the applicant to assist with their decision. For example, they may ask for a second reference. If so, they will be expected to contact the applicant/agent directly (not via the admissions team) and you/the applicant can supply the information back to them directly without going via the Post-Graduate Admissions Office. 

Postgraduate Supplementary Documents (e.g. to meet an outstanding condition)

From 1 May 2009, we will also no longer require an applicant to send original or authenticated documents in order to meet their conditions and receive their conditional offer. Offers can be made unconditional based on:

• Copy or scan of degree certificate and/or copy or scan of transcript
• Copy or scan of English language result
• Copy or scan of ONE academic reference

These documents should ONLY be sent attached to an email quoting the applicant number to . Please do not send these to the International Office or individual country managers. Documents can be sent as hard copy to the Post-Graduate Admissions Office if necessary.

Correspondence from Postgraduate Admissions

1. As soon as an online application is submitted, the system will send an automatic response to the contact email as given on the form.
2. Once the ‘online’ applications have been downloaded into our record system (daily Monday-Friday), an acknowledgement email will also be sent which thanks the applicant and gives the application number and explains that the application has been logged on our system and sent to the relevant Department.  The time between receiving the automatic response from the online form and the acknowledgement from the admissions office can be up to 3 days.

3. Please quote application numbers in all correspondence with us.  You should also put the full name of the student, date of birth and exact title of the programme applied for.

4. Please allow a minimum of six weeks from receiving the acknowledgement email before contacting the admissions office for an update.

5. Offers are made by email and then sent by post. We also now send the reply form by email and the applicant can accept the offer electronically. IGNORE any references in our literature to yellow reply forms.

6. To accept (decline) an offer:

i. Students who have received the reply form sent with the email offer must use this.
ii. Students who have received the ‘old’ hard copy yellow form can still use it. However, we would prefer that they simply email and tell us that they accept (or decline) the offer. They should include application number, name, date of birth and programme title.
7. Deposit forms are also on the web and applicants are directed to the appropriate form in their offer and reply email.

8. Currently, we are only sending urgent unconditional and visa letters by DHL. We are sending hard copy conditional offers by ordinary mail as all the information required (offer, reply form and deposit form) has already been sent electronically.

9. When an applicant has met a condition they will get an email to confirm this. They will also get an email when they have met all their conditions, to tell them that they are ‘now unconditional’.

10. The visa letter will be sent electronically and also by DHL. Please note that an applicant MUST ACCEPT our offer first in order to receive a visa letter.

This email address is the only address to use for all correspondence with the University of Bath concerning post-graduate applications. Please do not contact the International Office emails for post-graduate application queries. The admissions team will do their utmost to respond to your query as quickly as possible.  They use a generic email called ‘Request Tracker’ which will initially give you a ‘ticket number’. This confirms that your email has been received at the University and will be responded to as quickly as possible.

To assist them by reducing the number of emails please could you:

• Only send initial applications through the online application form from 1 May 2009. Please do not send initial applications as email attachments.
• Please allow six weeks from submitting an online application before contacting the pg admissions team to ask for an update.
• Please send supplementary documentation (as email plus attachment) to the only. Quote the student’s application number in all correspondence Please do not send/copy to the International Office.
• Please try to group enquiries for the Graduate Office. It is better to send ONE email requesting an update for 5 students, than 5 separate emails.

Postgraduate Deposits and Visa Letters

The guidelines from UKBA clearly state that there is no advantage in visa application to a student in paying any deposit /fees to the University before they go for their visa. In other words, provided that they can show sufficient finance for their studies (as set down in the guidelines) via their bank account this is acceptable.

Therefore we would strongly advise that students do not hold up visa applications by waiting until they get receipts for small sums of money (such as deposits for programmes).

Return of Original Postgraduate Documents

The Departments should start to return any original certificates and transcripts we have received directly to the correspondence address we have logged on our system. This is because the student will need these to get their visa. Please contact Departments directly if you have a question about the return of an original document.

Existing Postgraduate Applicants

Of course we realise that many of your students have applied already. We are contacting existing applicants as quickly as possible to let them know of the changes and aim to finish this process by 31 May. This will include:

• New visa letters for those who have already accepted an unconditional offer
• New offer letters without any conditions based on supplying original documentation.

Postgraduate Departmental Contacts

We know that many of you do already use the Departmental contacts but we would encourage you to go directly to Departments from 1 May 2009 using our admissions contacts list 2009/10. Much of the processing is done in Departments and you may be able to get a faster update on progress of an application or ‘iron out’ a query more quickly by going directly to the Department than via the International Office or Post-Graduate Admissions Office.

Please ONLY use the generic email address for a Department-not a personal email. We have provided you with the name of the Departmental admissions administrator so that you know what to call them. We have let our Departments know ‘who you are’ and also that you may be in touch directly with them.

Undergraduate Applicants

As our undergraduate applicants are still coming via UCAS, there are relatively few changes in our systems for them. However, students will now need a separate visa letter. In other words, they will no longer be able to get a visa just with a conditional offer letter and proof of their A levels results. 

(August) A level Candidates

A level results will come out to students on Thursday 20 August 2009.

As we now have to list the A levels on the visa letter, we need to import and then ‘tidy up’ qualifications information we receive from our system before issuing the visa letter. We will do this daily but it will mean that we will start to post visa letters 2-3 days later than previously.

Our aim is to start sending UG visa letters by DHL on Thursday 27 August 2009.

Non-A Level Candidates

Candidates who have already met their offer (e.g. IB candidates) because their results are issued earlier will get visa letters sent by DHL as the results come in. We will also aim to give a definite acceptance or rejection to any borderline candidates as quickly as possible.

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