AN increasing number of students with a university admission score below 50 is not proof that Australia’s university admission standards are slipping.
That’s according to Charles Sturt University deputy vice chancellor (academic) Professor Toni Downes, who has lashed out after reports last week that there were too many students with low Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks (ATARs) admitted to university.
Fairfax Media reported that students who received ATARs below 50 were now three times more likely to be admitted to university than they were four years ago.
Teaching, information technology and commerce degrees admitted the highest proportion of students with below-50 ATARs, a Department of Education report said.
Professor Downes confirmed ATAR scores were not the basis for the “vast majority” of students admitted to study undergraduate teacher degrees at CSU last year. Of the 836 students admitted, more than half (57 per cent) were admitted on the basis of previous university studies.
The remainder were admitted via approved pathway programs (21 per cent), previous TAFE studies (16 per cent) or on their secondary school studies (six per cent).
Professor Downes said a student’s ATAR result should not be the entire focus of whether they are eligible for university study.
“More than 70 per cent of commencing education students at CSU are not recent school leavers,” she said.
“Debate that focuses on the role of the ATAR in determining course entry and graduate quality risks ignoring the majority of cases.
“This diversity of pathways and bases of admission is a strength of CSU.”
Professor Downes said CSU focuses on graduate outcomes, and the benefits of this approach are shown in above average retention rates.
“[There is] a 93 per cent first-test success rate for CSU student teachers in the newly implemented national literacy and numeracy tests, and one of the highest graduate employment rates in the sector.”