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Inquiry into higher ed admissions processes

Need to ensure students “uni ready”

7 April 2016

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The minister for education and training Simon Birmingham has tasked the Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) to canvass options to improve information about the accessibility and comparability of course entry pathways and to ensure students are ‘uni ready’.

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He said students need a clear understanding of what they need to get into their course of choice and what will be expected of them through their further study, while universities need to be held to account – and that appears presently not to be the case:

Some students are confused about university entry requirements, such as the ATAR and how that plays out with other adjustments for ‘bonus points’ and weightings for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Transparency is absolutely the key to ensuring that students make informed choices and that universities are accountable for who they are taking in to their university programs and the calibre of the students that they’re taking.

HESP2

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The HESP has published a short issues paper and says that its advice will be guided by 10 key principles:

  1. A student-centred approach to transparency should be central to any solution.
  2. All students, no matter what their backgrounds, should have the same knowledge of how admissions arrangements work.
  3. The broad autonomy of institutions over their admissions policies should be accepted, providing that these policies are compliant with the Higher Education Standards.
  4. The revised Higher Education Standards, which will take effect from 1 January 2017, should provide the operating framework: they contain clearly articulated requirements in relation to admissions transparency, the provision of information for prospective students, and the quality of learning environments.
  5. Any new requirements or changes should apply equally to all higher education institutions, universities and non-university higher education institutions alike.
  6. Consistently presented and comparable information on all entry pathways and requirements should be available for each institution by discipline or by course.
  7. A guide to admissions policies and student enrolments should be made available through a single online platform for ease of access.
  8. Universities Australia and other higher education peak bodies should publicly support clarity on how ATARs scores are used and the manner in which alternative admissions pathways and policies are applied.
  9. It should be made clear that ATAR thresholds do not operate as a strict ‘cut-off’; that thresholds generally apply to (bonus point) adjusted ATARs; and that prior year ATAR thresholds are provided only as a guide to prospective students.
  10. Higher education institutions should be held accountable for public claims against their stated entry policies.

The HESP has called for submissions by Friday, 27 May 2016.

 

See
Higher Education Standards Panel to review university entrance scores

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