This literature review will explore the current knowledge on postgraduate student selection in the UK and other countries and attempt to examine research done on the various student selection tools, the desired qualities of ideal postgraduate students and predictors of student performance in postgraduate courses. The author will attempt to critique and identify gaps in the current literature. Information gathered from this process will be used to inform and backup the chosen methodology of this project.
A search was conducted for articles written in English language on the student selection criteria for postgraduate public health education. Databases included in the ...view middle of the document...
Student selection is traditionally based mainly on academic background/achievements, using interviews, educational transcripts, reference letters and personal statements as tools for admission screening. However, in recent years, the criterion has been widened to include other factors like individual attitudes, interests, and personal characteristics desired goals and work experience. Selection policies based on the traditional academic ability are fast fading out for a number of reasons. One reason is the lack of evidence showing a correlation between previous academic performance and subsequent success in health professional courses/practice (16). An essential part of this process is the definition of one or more criterion by which applicants can be judged. This step is extremely important, as SOPH are expected to choose and train future public health practitioners who will be equipped with the requisite skills expected to address the challenges of this demanding profession (15).
The application process postgraduate course differs from country to country. In the UK, candidates contact the SOPH they are interested in directly and fill the application either online or by sending paper copies with all the necessary documents attached. However, In the USA, selection of students to an MPH programme uses a more centralized system. Students intending to undertake a postgraduate course in public health send their application to the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS). All SOPH and public health programmes are accredited by the nationally recognized Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). SOPHAS then contacts individual SOPH on behalf of the candidate.
Until recently in the UK, training under the Faculty of Public Health was open to only medical practitioner and as a result, availability of spaces on medically oriented public health programmes for non-medical applicants were limited. However in 2000, the faculty membership was opened to non-medical graduates. Despite this change, there has been a decline in faculty membership. These events have prompted questions about the skills required to be competent public health practitioners and if it is necessary to have a medical degree before studying public health. (17)
TOOLS OF STUDENT SELECTION:
There is very limited literature on postgraduate student selection criteria and no research paper was found assessing the MPH selection criteria in the UK. Literature reviewed in this study include studies on the selection criteria for undergraduate and postgraduate medical training, nursing, occupational therapy and other allied health professions. Since the MPH programme admits candidates from a wide range of professional background, the inclusion of studies covering the selection criteria of these courses is justified.
Bhalla et al (2007) carried out a qualitative analysis of the process of selecting graduate Orthodontic students in Canada. The objective of this study was...