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Monash considers selection overhaul
October 9, 2009 – 12:07AM
MONASH University may revamp the way students are selected, in a bid to meet the Federal Government’s ambitious plan to get more people from poorer backgrounds into higher education.
Conceding that university ENTER scores do not always provide enough chances for some students to get into a degree, Monash University is considering expanding its selection process to capture more people from a wider range of backgrounds, particularly in its outer-suburban and regional campuses.
In an interview with The Age, vice-chancellor Ed Byrne flagged the idea of a post-school ”transition” college, whereby prospective tertiary students spend a period of time upgrading their skills and preparing themselves for university before a formal assessment to get into a course.
He said the idea already operated at some overseas universities, and would complement the ENTER system – which is based solely on the grades students get in the VCE – as the main pathway into university.
”I’m a firm believer that you can have a range of routes of entry into university that don’t in any way diminish the standard,” Professor Byrne said.
”You could look at ways of assessing young people robustly to make sure they have the desire, the passion and the ability for a university education, and then, through a transition process, improve their skill sets before a formal assessment which replaces the ENTER as the major route to university.”
Monash’s decision to rethink the way students are selected comes after The Age revealed its cross-town rival, Melbourne University, was doing the same. A discussion paper released by Melbourne earlier this year argued that there could be more emphasis on other selection measures, such as aptitude tests, special entry schemes, civics test or personal essays.
It raised concerns that tertiary entrance scores were not always a precise measure of academic performance, and that students who suffer from systemic education disadvantage can struggle to get high scores despite high academic potential.
All universities are now under pressure to enrol people from poorer backgrounds, after the Federal Government set a new target to have at least 20 per cent of students come from disadvantaged groups by 2020.
Professor Byrne said that while discussions were still in the early stages at Monash, the university would be well placed to set up a transitional pathway because it already has a similar operation, known as Monash College, which gives international students a year of intensive training, before a formal assessment, to prepare them for Australian university life.
The push for more students is likely to be centred on the university’s outer-suburban and regional campuses – Berwick, Peninsula and Gippsland.
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/monash-considers-selection-overhaul-20091008-gp2i.html