Fitness for purpose in vocational higher education : relationship between entry requirements and student attainment in occupational therapy degree programmes
This thesis explores the relationship between the level of entry requirements and subsequent student attainment on Occupational Therapy degree programmes. It questions the justification for the continued rise in the level of entry qualifications since the early 1990s. It also considers whether students' personal qualities should be seen as equally important when considering entry to a vocational programme. The thesis begins With a review of the evoiution of Occupational Therapy as a profession and considers the development of training courses from diploma through to degree validation. A range of literature is discussed in relation to the role of qualifications in education and training including degrees in the training of professionals and issues of professional competence. An empirical investigation, using quantitative and qualitative methods was conducted of the relationship between entry requirements and student attainment at an English university where an Occupational Therapy degree programme has been placed since 1991. A questionnaire survey provided details of the students' entry qualifications which were then considered alongside evidence of students' progress and attainment during the programme and their final degree classification. Interviews were conducted with lecturers at the university and employers of the new graduates. The findings of this thesis did not find any academic rationale to support the rise in entry qualifications. Rather, the results indicate that had the entry standards been strictly adhered to, a high percentage of students would not have been eligible to train. Furthermore, the thesis establishes that more importance should be given to the role of interviewing prospective students.