Predicting or guessing: the progress of Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) students at the University of Glasgow
This paper investigates the academic performance of adults who entered the University of Glasgow via the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) between 1988–1993. Approximately half of the total number who entered with such qualifications also attended the Pre-University Summer School. This is a course, run by the university, which provides preparation and access for non-traditional students most of whom have backgrounds of socio-economic disadvantage. Initially the groups of students were separated into those who attended summer school and those who did not to determine what effects, if any, attendance at the summer school had had on academic performance. There were found to be few differences between the two groups (summer school and non-summer school). The students who attended the summer school dropped-out at largely the same rate as those who did not. A closer review of the number of passes in degree examinations gained in first year by students who eventually dropped-out was then undertaken. At this point the review of the passes gained indicated that considerably fewer of those who had had the benefit of the summer school preparation left having gained no passes in degree examinations. From the initial review it appeared to be possible to predict the probable future performance of those involved in the analysis that had yet to complete their degrees at that stage. Therefore, in 1999 the academic performance of those students who had not completed previously were examined together with the early prediction model. The results indicated that a pattern of prediction could be formulated on the basis of first year performance which, if tested on a larger scale, might provide the basis for a programme of intervention with academic support for those students whose progress after first year degree examinations is in doubt.