Personal statement assessment sheets/criteria

Pattison made this Freedom of Information request to University of Bristol

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The request was refused by University of Bristol.

Dear University of Bristol,
For medicine applications, could I please see the document/proforma/criteria for the assessment of medical application personal statements.

Yours faithfully,

J Pattison

University of Bristol FOI mailbox, University of Bristol

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University of Bristol FOI mailbox, University of Bristol

Dear J Pattison,


Freedom of Information Request (our reference FOI18-450)


We refer to your Freedom of Information Request dated 27 September 2018.
We apologise for the delay in providing our response.


You requested the following information:


“For medicine applications, could I please see the
document/proforma/criteria for the assessment of medical application
personal statements.”


University’s Response


Further to Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the “Act”) we
confirm that the information requested is held by the University of
Bristol (the “University”).  However, the information is considered exempt
from disclosure under section 36(2)(c) of the Act.


Section 36(2)(c) states:


“Information to which this section applies is exempt information if, in
the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, disclosure of the
information under this Act would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely
to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs.”


From the 2019, the University will not be using personal statements as a
weighted component of the admissions selection process for undergraduate
programmes in the School of Medicine. However, the University may still
refer to candidates’ personal statements in the event that it needs to
differentiate between equally good candidates, with the same UKCAT scores,
after the interview stage.


More information about the admissions process for undergraduate programmes
in the School of Medicine can be found in the admissions statement:




The disclosure of the personal statement scoring criteria into the public
domain would be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of the
University’s public affairs, namely its duty to use a fair and equitable
process to select the most suitable candidates for its courses. Disclosure
of the criteria would undermine the admissions process, with applicants
potentially gaining an unfair advantage by using the criteria as a 'tick
list' with which they seek to comply when writing their personal
statement. This could leave the University in a position where it needed
to differentiate between equally capable candidates on some other
undeclared basis.


Public interest considerations


We are required to consider the public interest in disclosure of the
information when applying this exemption. There is a public interest in
disclosure, to demonstrate that the University’s admissions procedure is
clear and transparent, so applicants (and the public) can be assured that
the selection process is consistent and fair and there can be no
accusation of bias. The integrity of admissions procedures is essential
for all higher education institutions, to ensure that the public trusts
them to select the most suitable applicants, and thus make effective use
of public funds and students’ tuition fees.   


However, there is also a public interest in withholding the scoring
criteria from disclosure, to ensure a level playing field for all
applicants so that the University may identify the candidates most
suitable for its courses. This public interest is increased when the
course relates to a vocation such as Medicine, where it is in the public
interest that the University selects only the candidates most suitable for
the study and practice of medicine, to ensure the safety of patients.


If disclosed, applicants who were to find and use the personal statement
scoring criteria when preparing their statement would potentially gain an
unfair advantage over other applicants. Those students would be able to
use the criteria to construct a model personal statement that displays all
the characteristics and attributes the University seeks in its students.
That could lead to the University accepting applicants who have closely
followed the criteria but who are not as suitable for the programme as
others. Equally, the University might find itself having to create new
application processes or criteria in order to level the playing field
again and differentiate between large numbers of apparently suitable


On balance, therefore, we do not consider that the public interest in
disclosing the personal statement assessment criteria outweighs the
potential prejudice to the effective conduct of the University’s public
affairs, and the information is therefore considered exempt from


As the wording of the exemption in section 36(2)(c) of Act states, it may
only be applied if such prejudice would, or would be likely to, occur in
the “reasonable opinion of a qualified person”. The qualified person for
universities is the Vice-Chancellor (or equivalent) and our
Vice-Chancellor has approved the application of this exemption having
considered the relevant issues.


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If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request then you have a
right under Section 50 of the Act to request an internal review.  All such
requests must send to us within 40 days and must clearly state your
reference number and your reason for your request for an internal review. 
We will respond to your request for an internal review within 20 working
days of receipt.


Your request for an internal review should be sent to:-


Director of Legal Services,

Secretary’s Office,

University of Bristol,

Senate House,

Tyndall Avenue,




Or you can email your request to [University of Bristol request email],
quoting your FOI reference number at the head of this letter.


Information Commissioners Office


Should you remain dissatisfied with the final outcome of the internal
review then you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner (the
“ICO”) for an independent review.  The ICO is the Government’s Independent
Body responsible for overseeing the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the
Data Protection Act 1998 and The Environmental Information Regulations


Please note the ICO will only review cases that have exhausted the
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The ICO’s contact details are as follows:-


The Information Commissioners Office,

Wycliffe House,

Water Lane,



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More information can be found at the ICO’s website
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Kind Regards


Freedom of Information Team

University of Bristol


From: Pattison <[FOI #522275 email]>
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2018 3:30:06 PM
To: University of Bristol FOI mailbox
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Personal statement assessment
Dear University of Bristol,
For medicine applications, could I please see the
document/proforma/criteria for the assessment of medical application
personal statements.

Yours faithfully,

J Pattison


Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[FOI #522275 email]

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