The Australian 18 July
Macquarie, Swinburne, Canberra, Western Sydney and the Australian Catholic universities recruited aggressively in 2010 and 2011, over-enrolling by between 25% and 40% over the two years, taking advantage of the doubling of the over-enrolment buffer to 10% in the lead-up to this year’s uncapping of higher education places. But the progress rates of their domestic undergraduates – or the proportion of units completed successfully – declined by between 1.5 and five percentage points over the period.
The average progress rate at the 38 public universities reached a historic low, sliding to 84 per cent last year after ranging between 85 % and 87% over the previous decade.
A University of Canberra spokesman said higher education expansion should be celebrated. If this results in a slightly lower progress rate, despite a university’s best efforts at support, it may be viewed as one part of a generally progressive policy.
Vin Massaro, an honorary professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne’s LH Martin Institute, cautioned against reading too much into what was traditionally a variable figure, although he said the “drift down” in progress rates did send a warning signal about admission policies and support for underprivileged students” and students with lower ATARS.
Both groups need a lot more support to succeed. It may be that the amount of support that’s funded isn’t sufficient to cater for the policy direction.