Over 81, 000 applicants for a place in a Victorian university or TAFE institute received notification on 16 January 2012 about the success or otherwise of their applications.
Overall , the Victorian Tertiary Applications Centre (VTAC) issued 59,992 offers on behalf of universities and participating TAFES and private colleges [GO HERE FOR VTAC DATA]. The majority of these – 47, 927 – were offers of a place at a university. With early offers to 9,559 applicants, the total number of domestic applicants with the offer of a place at a university was 54,155 (discounting multiple offers), an increase of 8.5% over last year and an overall record. Since caps were relaxed in 2009, university offers have increased a whopping 22%, with particularly strong growth at RMIT (+44%), Australian Catholic University (+40%), La Trobe (+35%) and Deakin (+34%) [TABLE 1 and TABLE 2].
The overall percentage of applicants receiving an offer has lifted from 72% in 2009 to 79% in 2012, which means that Victorian universities’ offer rates catching up with the national average. DEEWR reported that for admission in 2011 Victoria’s offer rate was 73.4%, well below the national average of 78.1%.
Notably, the growth of annual offers of 10,400 since 2009 is consistent with the finding of the Lee Dow Report (2009) that, allowing for the contribution of net migration, “…Victoria will require at least an additional 10,000 commencements each year” to meet Victoria’s economic and social needs.
There was strong growth in both applications and offers in Health (+14.9% in offers), Engineering and Related Technologies (+13.9%) and Education ((+6.7%). Offers in Information Technology declined (-5.8%) despite applications being up (+6%) [TABLE 3].
TAFE offers issued by VTAC have dropped by 4,600 or 27% since 2009 and private colleges have almost halved to 2,200. TAFE applications fell by 3,099 or 30% over the same period, while there was little change in private college applications. However, these figures relate only to applications and offers made through VTAC – most applications and offers for TAFE and private colleges are handled directly rather than through VTAC. While the growth in university enrolments might be having some impact on TAFE enrolments, as reported in some media (Vic universities expanding at expense of TAFE), the real challenge to TAFE is the explosive growth in enrolments in private RTOs under Victorian “Skills Reform”, which in the space of just a couple of years, has seen the TAFE share of the VET market decline precipitately, from about 75% to just over 50%. This situation also presents a real challenge to government, with the obvious risk of substantial historic public investment in the TAFE system being stranded and debased and some distortion in training outcomes, as shown by some well publicised examples of rorting of the skills funding system.
With such significant expansion in recent years, offers have obviously been made to people with lower ATARs than was previously the case in the capped system (or no ATAR at all). VTAC reports that for 607 courses in which offers have been made in 2012, the “clearly in” ATAR dropped for 313 courses, remained the same for 75 courses and actually went up for 219 (the “clearly in” ATAR is the point at or above which all ranked (eligible) applicants who applied for a particular course were made an offer for that course). The increasing proportion of early offers (+8.5% in 2012) and alternative entry pathways would likely understate the drop. Swinburne reports that over 25% of entarnts to its higher education divion enter via TAFE pathways and in 2011, nearly half of offers by Victoria University were outside the VTAC process.
Emmaline Bexley, a lecturer in higher education at The University of Melbourne, observes in The Age that it would be a mistake to suggest this would lead to a ”dumbing down”.
”Letting people in with an ATAR of 50 is brilliant as long as students are educationally prepared,” Dr Bexley said.
She said while universities tended to use high cutoff rankings as an indicator of the prestige of their degrees, this was a ”bit of a game” and the rankings were more indicative of demand for a course than what was required.
”This is going to give institutions more flexibility and allow a larger group of students in,” Dr Bexley said.
The proportion of applicants from low SES backgrounds receiving offers for university places was 75%, the same as the medium –high quartile and slightly less than the 78% of applicants from the highest SES quartile.
TABLE 1: Key data – at a glance
|University||First preferenceApplications2012||%age change 2009-2012||Offers 2012||Increase in offers 2009-2012||%age change 2009-2012|
TABLE 2: 2012 First round offers by university
|University||Number of offers||%age growth on 2012||%age share of offers|
Table 3: First Round Offers by Field of Study
|Field of Study||Offers 2011||Offers 2012||%age increase||%age share of offers|
|Society & Culture||10641||11125||4.5||23.2|
|Management & Commerce||7516||7892||5.0||16.5|
|Natural & Physical Sciences||5733||5949||3.8||12.4|
|Engineering & Related Technologies||2273||2588||13.9||5.4|
|Architecture & Building||895||929||3.8||1.9|
|Agriculture, Environmental & Related Studies||1131||11451||1,2||2.4|
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