This project explores stakeholders’ perceptions of the role of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in the admissions processes of UK higher education (HE) institutions. It draws on two pieces of empirical study: a large-scale questionnaire survey of those responsible for admissions decisions in a range of HE institutions in the pre- and post-1992 sectors; and a smaller scale interview-based qualitative study of a subset of these participants.
The empirical data gathered offered insights into the processes of standards-setting in various contexts, highlighted tensions between standards-setting and a growing economic imperative to recruit, and identified a niche for development opportunities in raising stakeholders’ awareness of the content and process of IELTS to enhance the quality of decision-making in this area. The study offered a number of recommendations for the designers/producers of IELTS, and for HE institutions. It also highlighted a number of directions for further complementary research.