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Private business profiting from students’ quota 2 application struggle

Quota 2 — Firm sells quota 2 applications and promises guaranteed admission. An application costs DKK 1,200, with an 88 per cent chance of getting in. The Student Council says it distorts the admission system.

“We started the company to help people get into the study of their dreams. People are good at many different things. But they are not necessarily good at writing. But if you are interested in studying to become a nurse, not a particularly heavy writing subject, you still have to do a written quota 2 application.”

This is according to Mads Koch Pedersen, co-founder of the company Go’ Kvote 2. Last year, he and three other students at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) won an entrepreneurship award for their project for tailor-made quota 2 applications. For payment.

“We believe that if we don’t help them, they get just help from friends, parents, or other acquaintances. They might as well get help from someone who has the necessary skills.”

Mads Koch Pedersen, Go’ Kvote 2

One application costs DKK 1,200, two costs DKK 1,800 and three cost DKK 2,400. But the company also states that it has a 88 per cent success rate. This is much higher than the national average, where only about 30 per cent of all quota 2 applicants get in.

The company can neither do magic, nor render the applicant more qualified than they are already,” says Mads Koch Pedersen. But their writers are trained in communicating. And the communication has to be the very best as the competition for quota 2 admissions is so intense.

At UCPH only 14 per cent get in

In 2018, the University of Copenhagen received 9,403 quota 2 applications from 7,176 hopeful applicants. Only just over 1,000 were taken in to the university’s hallowed halls. This corresponds to 14 per cent of all applicants.

The Danish Quota 1 and 2 system

Quota 1
In quota 1, admission to university depends exclusively on your grade point average from your upper secondary school exam.

Quota 2

In quota 2, admission is based on an individual assessment of your qualifications. Applicants have to write a motivational letter and a CV where they describe their qualifications. The university assesses you based on seven criteria:

1.   Motivation and study potential
2.   Relevant employment experience
3.   Relevant education experience
4.   Studies or work abroad
5.   Grade point average from the upper secondary school examination
6.   Grades from relevant subjects at upper secondary school level
7.   Other experience which is relevant for university studies (e.g. volunteering)

Around 10 per cent of study places are reserved for quota 2.

Applicants from Nordic and EU/EEA countries
Nordic applicants and applicants from EU/EEA countries are admitted on equal terms as applicants with a Danish upper secondary school exam both in quota 1 and quota 2.

More information about EU/EEA and Nordic admissions here.

Applicants with a diploma from Non-EU/EEA and Non-Nordic Countries
(High) school examinations are evaluated on the basis of an individual assessment of their qualifications (quota 2).

More information here.

More information about the Danish admissions system in general is here.

According to Go’ kvote 2, 25 per cent of their customers applied to the University of Copenhagen last year. And a third of all new customers plan to apply for the University of Copenhagen in 2019.

Co-founder Mads Koch Pedersen says that there is nothing ethically wrong with his company’s business model exploiting the tough competition for admissions:

“People often ask us whether it is ethical to do it. “We believe that if we don’t help them, they get just help from friends, parents, or other acquaintances. So they might as well get help from someone who has the necessary skills.” There is clearly a need for it, and we are happy to help them.”

Chairman of the Student Council at the University of Copenhagen Mike Gudbergsen says that he is worried that the company is undermining the whole purpose of quota 2:

“In the Student Council, we do not believe that a private company should be able to make money off quota 2. Quota 2 is intended to open up the academic community across social strata. To set up an economic barrier just extends the social inequality in admissions that quota 2 originally intended to fight.”

“It makes you feel a lot more safe”

It’s easy to be helped by the company once you have put the money on the table. In fact, you can just write to Go’ Kvote 2 on messenger and get »a convincing and personal application« back. It typically takes 10 days before it is finished,” says Mads Koch Pedersen.

“I could have got some input from my parents and help from them. But I knew that I got a service that was thorough, and well thought out, at Go’ Kvote 2.

Oscar, student

The University Post has not talked to students at the University of Copenhagen who have used Go’ Kvote 2’s service. But 20-year-old ‘Oscar’ (who prefers to keep his name for himself) says that he got into his studies at CBS with the help of Go’ Kvote 2 last year.

“I could have got some input from my parents and help from them. But I knew that I got a service that was thorough and well thought out at Go’ Kvote 2, and I also saved the hassle of having to back and forth to my parents. It makes you feel a lot more safe.”

QUOTA 2 AT UCPH

In 2018, 7,176 applicants applied to the University of Copenhagen via the quota 2 system. Only 1,007 of them were admitted. This corresponds to 14 per cent getting in.

In the medicine study programme, there were 1,556 quota 2 applicants for only 56 student places. This means that only 3.6 per cent of applicants got in.

It was mostly women that were admitted in quota 2. 64 per cent were women, while 36 per cent were men

The admitted applicants were on average 26.1 years old

Oscar is an IT wizard, but not one at writing, and he therefore knew that he needed help for his applications,” he says. Although he was very satisfied with the service he got from Go’ kvote 2, he can see that it puts you in a better position in the educational system, if you can pay:

“It was probably the reason I bought it in the end. Because otherwise I would be in greater risk of not living up to the formal requirements, and so on. So from an ethical point of view I can see that you are purchasing an advantage, or paying to place better,” he says.

Party spokesmen don’t want to ban purchased applications

Then you have to ask your sister, dad, or good friend to help you with your application. And if you don’t have any of these, then you may have to give priority to paying your way out of it.

Spokesman on education and science Mette Reissmann (S)

“We are generally in favour of the free market. The company has seen an opportunity in the market, and where there is a need for a service. I’m not going to ban this. We also believe in entrepreneurship,” says the Social Democrats’ spokesman on education and science Mette Reissmann about Go’ Kvote 2, which she calls a “classic CBS thing”.

Mette Reissmann says that she cannot see that the bought applications distort the quota 2 system. Applicants can already get help from family and friends. And the counsellors’ offices on the study programmes also offer help without you having to pay:

“Then you have to ask your sister, dad, or good friend to help you with your application. And if you don’t have any of these, then you may have to give priority to paying your way out of it. You can also go up to the student counsellor’s office on the study programme and get help for your application there,” says the education and research spokesman.

Quota 2 is intended to open up the academic community across social strata. To set up an economic barrier, just extends the social inequality in admissions that the quota 2 was intended to fight."
Chairman of the Student Council, Mike Gudbergsen

The students, however, have to consider whether the service they receive is worth DKK 1,200, says Mette Reissmann:

“It sounds expensive. The company needs some competition so that their prices can be reduced. I wouldn’t spend that much money on it, and I think students should think twice about it before they spend money on the service.”

It can, with some justification, be called a ‘consultant service’. But I believe, of course, that access [to the university] should be purely based on merit.”

Henrik Dahl, spokesman for education and research, Liberal Alliance.

Henrik Dahl, spokesman on education and science for the Liberal Alliance, can understand why the company exists. But he says that it is not consistent with the educational system’s spirit of meritocracy:

It can, with some justification, be called a ‘consultant service’. But I believe, of course, that access [to the university] should be purely based on merit,” he says.

But is it based on merit, if you pay for the application?

“No. But neither is it illegal,” says Henrik Dahl.

A social edge

In quota 2, people are assessed on different things than their grade point average. And it is supposed to create more diversity and increase the social mobility in the educational system. But rectors, as well as students and researchers have criticised the quota 2 system, saying that it gives the children of well-educated parents a head start in admissions to university, because this group has more access to help when they have to, say, write an application for admission.

I’m sorry to have to say it, but if you cannot write a job application, you cannot get a job. You need to be able to spell to gain access to higher education

Spokesman on education and science Mette Reissmann (S)

In August, management at the Department of Psychology expressed concern that the current quota 2 system at UCPH favoured applicants with a privileged background and a good network.

But education and science spokesperson Mette Reissmann says that she does not believe that the quota 2 system needs to be reviewed:

Does this not mean that it is too difficult to get into quota 2, if someone can set up a company around it?

“No. You have to be able to write an application to get in via quota 2. I’m sorry to have to say it, but if you cannot write a job application, you cannot get a job. You need to be able to spell to gain access to higher education,” says Mette Reissmann.

New admissions system at UCPH

At the University of Copenhagen, the criticism of quota 2 has led to it challenging the quota 2 model. From 2020, quota 2 applicants have to go through an admissions test that tests applicants’ academic potential and professional skills. Then they have to either attend a written interview with three to four questions or an oral interview, which replaces the motivated application.

“We want to make sure that the applicants themselves have done their quota 2 applications, and that the quota 2 applicants are more equal in their starting point,” says Pernille Kindtler, who is head of guidance and admissions at the University of Copenhagen.

We believe that if we don't help them, they get just help from friends, parents, or other acquaintances. So they might as well get help from someone who has the necessary skills.
Co-founder of Go' kvote 2 Mads Koch Pedersen

It is not clear what the admissions examination will look like. The University of Copenhagen is hoping to have the Danish university legislation amended, so they can replace a current 6.0 grade requirement with an entrance examination. But just considering doing something different has taken many more years than setting up Go ‘Kvote 2:

“This is an issue that we have been discussing for a number of years. This company throws light upon this issue, and makes it even more important to talk about it. But we always knew that some applicants received help with their quota 2 applications,” says Pernille Kindtler.

According to the Student Council at the University of Copenhagen, an admissions test will solve some of the problems associated with quota 2 today. But it is important that the test measures academic readiness and not just academic skills:

“The admissions test is not to extract the applicant’s academic skills, as this is something that you acquire through the programme. Instead, the admissions tests should measure academic aptitude on parameters where the parents’ academic backgrounds are not essential,” says chairman Mike Gudbergsen.

Free help at the study programme counsellors office

Mads Koch Pedersen from Go’ Kvote 2 says that he can easily see the advantage of a quota 2 model that does not include a motivated application:

“The competition is very tough. It is only about 30 per cent that get in via quota 2. On the medicine study programme in Copenhagen there are 56 student places for more than 1,500 applicants. So maybe it’s too difficult to get in to the study programmes, and maybe you need to write a motivated application to all the study programmes, and that is not the right way to do it,” he says.

The applicants do not have to pay anyone for the preparation, because the use of the UCPH study programme guides and the visitors’ schemes are a better and cheaper way to clarify the application and be prepared

Head of Section at UCPH, Pernille Kindtler

The new admissions procedures at UCPH mean that Go’ Kvote 2 may need to rethink their business strategy. But Mads Koch Pedersen says that he is not worried about the company’s future:

“Then we need to change, too. I’m sure that someone needs to help prepare for the admissions exam. Here you could certainly help a lot of people.”

Head of section Pernille Kindtler says that potential applicants do not have to pay to get help:

“We generally have no objections to people preparing well. It means getting a grasp of what the programme is about and what your own qualifications are. The preparations help you make a good and informed choice of study programme. The applicants do not have to pay anyone for the preparation, because the use of the UCPH study programme’s guidelines and the visiting schemes are a better and cheaper way to clarify the application and be prepared.”

Applicants can also find good advice on the university website.

Have you used or considered using Go’ Kvote 2? We are interested in hearing your story on the University Post. You can contact us on uniavis@adm.ku.dk

Translated by Mike Young

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