Comparing the transfer process from High School to Higher Education in the UK with Iran

Reza Mortezaei, Richard Morris, Tim Katz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


Applicants to BSc (Hons) Product Design courses at the University of Brighton are required to undertake an applicant interview which includes the presentation a portfolio preseentation of their work undertaken in later years of formal schooling. Little correlation however has been shown between applicant A-level scores and their performance at degree level, with only weak correlations with interview performance, creating difficulties in assessing candidate suitability to join the degree level programmes. Earlier research attempted to assess the issues faced by students as they transferred from high school to higher education, including differences experienced in pedagogic practice. This study however extended the research to look at cultural influences.

The assessment process at the Iranian University of Science and Technology (IUST) in Iran follows a different approach in selecting students. Due to a high number of applicants applying for public universities, the process has turned more into a competition than a proper assessment. The Iranian model is more formal, but is assessed against a broad variety of subjects as opposed to the specialism of the A-level system. Their specialism is into 5 domains, not a selection of individual. Each Institution investigated the responses of a series of students, and asked them the same (or similar) questions. They were chosen from a number of different groups to try to avoid the dominance of particular course experience and get a broader perspective.

The similarities and differences from application to award highlight a number of interesting issues. Both institutions recognise the need for developing independence, and that the transition is difficult. Iranian students put more value on the richness of information and debate, but feel frustrated by tight course-orientated constraints. The British students, on the other hand, found that they could sometimes get lost in their new-found freedom and perform badly through a lack of self discipline particularly as they are often away from home and in a completely different learning environment than before. Their poor ability to adapt to these changed expectations and circumstances seems to be one of the most important factors in their further academic success.

The paper poses a number of questions about whether university preparation could be modified, or whether it is solely the responsibility of the HE institution to facilitate the transition and shaping. Particular learning approaches, activities and social groupings become important. It is suggested that further cultural exchange could help to illuminate which approaches work best in their context with an outside observer giving a fresh view
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of E&PDE 2009, the 11th Engineering and Product Design Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationCreating a Better World
EditorsA. Clarke, W. Ion, C. McMahon, P. Hogarth
PublisherDesign Society
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2009
Event11th international conference on engineering and product design education - University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Sep 200911 Sep 2010


Conference11th international conference on engineering and product design education
CountryUnited Kingdom


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