Rethinking the admission processes to higher education in Engineering: the case of a university in Chile

Marcela Cárdenas, Maria Elena Truyol

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Various international investigations have focused on higher education admission systems as these seek to identify the academic potential of new admissions. In many countries, standardized admission tests are used as they are considered good predictors of future academic performance by candidates. Further to this, as is the case in Chile, the Single Admission System (SUA, in Spanish) employs and additional ranking that seeks to consider the long-term performance of students in terms of their study context. This is done using a candidate's average school grades and weighing this result with a ranking associated with their school. This weighing aims to reduce the importance that a single selection test may have and so provide opportunities to underrepresented groups in higher education. However, this system has been widely criticized for not fulfilling its central aim and worse still in that it increases discrimination against students who come from less favored sectors. In Engineering degrees in particular, the SUA calculates the scores by assigning different weights to the ranking, which may vary from 10% to 40% depending on the engineering career considered. This present study seeks to analyze the different sources of information that the SUA system uses to determine the correlation that these may have with academic performance in first year students. The data analyzed is for a population of 7,845 students entering engineering careers between 2013 and 2017, where a stratified random sample of 675 students from a private Chilean university was considered, having the highest enrollment at the national level in engineering careers. Using a correlational analysis, the aim is to detect variables that may play a relevant role in first-year academic success. The data considered includes age, gender, type of school, school ranking, scores attained in selection tests, and their course grades at the end of their first year at university. Preliminary results show that SUA indicators are not sound predictors of academic performance for this sample of first-year engineering students. Results obtained are discussed and suggestions presented on the use of available information to improve a university selection and admission system. Moreover, the uptake of these study results by higher education institutions is encouraged to develop actions that may accompany and buttress academic performance during the first year of university studies for students identified as being at risk.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: 26 Jun 202229 Jun 2022


  • admission process
  • drop out
  • engineering
  • predictors
  • standardized test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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