National Online Selection System

Higher Education is a crucial sector for Papua New Guinea’s economic and social development. Ensuring quality in this sector is the focus of the Department of Higher, Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST) responsibility. One of the focal points for some time has been the National Selection process that is facilitated by the Department.

In the process prior to 2017 every Higher Education Institution (HEI) was allowed to arbitrarily structure their admission requirements. The information was then passed to schools where School Leavers are selecting Institutions and programs, which they would like to apply to. During the National Selection all HEIs select from candidates who indicated their programs as first choice, GPA being the main selection criteria. After the first round of selection, if there were some places left in the HEIs programs, selectors added candidates which selected a particular institution as their second choice and later possibly from candidates who had indicated that they would be willing to accept other offers from similar fields of study.

This traditional, paper based process was not only time consuming, but led to visible and often criticized sub optimal match between candidates and programs. Two most common problems were candidates’ over or underestimation of their academic potential. Analysis of historical data shows that thousands of candidates applied for programs for which they did not meet academic requirements. Because of that they automatically lost their chances to be admitted to the less selective program. On the other hand, some candidates, who passed exams with high GPA apply for “easier” programs. Furthermore, manual selection of first choice and second choice candidates often led to missing better candidates.

Simple GPA is not precise enough to be a ranking tool (e.g. in 2016 there were 32 straight A “first choice” candidates for Bachelor of Law at UPNG). What is more, it is the only measure visible to candidates and parents leading to unjust accusation of unfair selection process.

The Department’s goal to continually improve the selection process is a very important step into enhancing quality and equality in the selection process. This is also a core mandate of DHERST as prescribed in the Schedule 1B (m) of the Higher Education (General Provisions) Act 2014. Therefore, DHERST in 2017-2018 initiated a three steps process to ensure best possible matching of candidates and HEIs programs:

As a first step DHERST already augmented information passed to candidates in National Selection brochure by adding for each University program historical information about the number of selected students and minimal GPA that allowed enrolment. This will hopefully allow candidates to better select HEIs to which they can apply this year.

In the second step DHERST facilitated the National Selection process for year 2018 with new software that will not only made the process much more transparent and efficient but also ensure better matching due to the adoption of Gale-Shapley college admission algorithm.

Finally, in 2018, DHERST introduced electronic School Leavers Form that will allow all candidates to apply for any number of programs which will ultimately increase quality of matching between the candidates and programs.

Two first steps mentioned above are conducted as a part of a wider program that will also result in a higher efficiency of TESAS allocation and easier integration of DHERST database with HEIs this year.

During this process DHERST is working with PCG Academia, a Polish subsidiary of the American Public Consulting Group company who successfully serves education sector in the USA, Canada and Europe. PCG Academia has an enormous experience in student admission and management software development and implementation and has already proved its commitment to PNG by implementing student information systems at some Universities.
3. Description of proposed 2017/2018 process

DHERST intends to use the described above algorithm in current National Selection Process. We want to ensure that the process will match proper candidates and programs as well as enable highest possible acceptance of high GPA candidates.

The process will be run in four steps.

  1. Candidate data gathering stage
  2. HEI data completion and fine tuning
  3. Automated selection with on-site support
  4. Distribution of the results.

Step 1 of the above list is already underway. The department, after gathering entry requirements from HEI distributed the 2017-2018 Grade 12 National Selection Brochure. The returning SLFs are inserted into the database. The process would be completed when G12 final exam results from Measurement Service Division (MSD), National Department of Education are received.

Step 2 will commence when DHERST National Selection admin will create admin accesses for HEIs to the online system where they would be able manage their selection.

A HEI admin would be able to set up accounts for HEI selectors. They would see lists of candidates who applied for each of their programs as first or second choice. Also there will be information about number of candidates who declared to accept another invitation in same study field.

The department would require all HEIs to confirm or edit the information on each programs regarding:

Intended number of candidates to be invited through the National Selection process (default would be set for last year admission number)
Ranking criteria for creation of an ordered list of candidates who pass entry requirements. This will be set to GPA by default.

Additionally HEIs that added some special requirements for certain programs (e.g. STAT-P test or portfolio submission) would be allowed to load into the database SLF numbers of candidates who meet their additional entrance criteria. When data gathering conducted in stage 1 is completed HEIs will be able to see the list of candidates matching criteria with their ranking position.

Step 3 will commence when DHERST National Selection admin closes both step 1 and step 2.

Prior to this a notice will be sent to HEIs admins. There will be also a rule that if HEIs does not update default data, last year admission quotas and GPA will be used in automated selection process.

Once edition of data is closed, the automated process as described in section 3 will commence. All HEI will be able to check it online.

  • It is very important to reiterate that this does not limit HEIs freedom of selection. All the tasks connected with setting up of:
  • quotas
  • entrance requirement (even those that do not rely on Grade 12 final exams)

Criteria for choosing best of the candidates who meet requirements are in sole discretion of HEIs.

After the automated algorithm is run HEIs will get the proposed list for their final approval.

In Step 4 all HEIs will get the selected candidates list with whole data gathered on SLF in coma separated text files, that would allow its import into their information system and facilitate the registration process.