By JR on Thursday, June 02, 2016
Australian university places still mainly filled by better-off students despite uncapping
This is a good example of shallow Leftist thinking leading to a result the opposite of what was intended. A measure designed to help the poor has helped the rich. Dumbing down university admission standards to help the poor sounds right for about 5 minutes -- until you look at the source of the problem.
And the source is clearly the bad schools that the poor are forced to attend. And you can't fix the schools by making university education dumber. It is clear what is needed: Restoration of discipline in the schools so that teachers are free to teach, no matter how poor the catchment area of the school may be. As it is at the moment, a few disruptive students can hold back a whole class.
And student fees are another deterrent to the poor -- but not to the rich. So a wealthy family can now get a university degree for their kid even though the kid might not be the brightest
AUSTRALIA’S universities remain the playground of the "rich and thick", who are gaining entry to degrees with low scores thanks to reforms designed to help the poor.
That has prompted one university head to warn that you don’t "change the make-up of the flock by leaving the farm gate open".
Thanks to former prime minister Julia Gillard’s decision to uncap university places, unis can enrol as many students as they wish, with the federal government funding the places and students running up $67 billion in uni loans.
It is estimated that one in four of these debts will never be repaid to taxpayers.
The number of students gaining university places with a tertiary entry mark under 50 is on track to hit 10,000 students this year.
But the target of 20 per cent of students from low-income backgrounds by 2020 is proving tougher to deliver.
The proportion of low-income students attending university had remained stable, at around 16 per cent, for nearly two decades. Uncapping places has lifted it by only about 1 per cent.
University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Stephen Bebbington has previously warned the reforms had not done much to lift participation of disadvantaged kids. "As my father the farmer would have said, ‘You don’t change the make-up of the flock by leaving the farm gate open’," he said.
The Group of Eight (Go8) universities, Australia’s eight leading research universities, have previously warned that the reforms need a rethink. "Although the proportion of students from a low SES background has increased over the past five years, 80 per cent of growth still occurred in students from medium and high SES backgrounds."
There are also claims that wealthy public and private schools "inflate" entry scores with intensive tutoring that leaves those students struggling at third-level.
Curtin University researchers found that schools with higher socio-economic status inflate their students’ university entry scores and hence access to university.
Meanwhile, Grattan Institute director Andrew Norton said there was evidence that students from disadvantaged backgrounds who had defied the odds to make it to university performed better than their lower Year 12 scores predict. "They are resilient and have the work ethic to succeed even if their ATARs are lower."
Some critics are calling for a new debate around whether a university education should be regarded as a prerequisite for all, citing the example of successful Australians, including Paul Keating and philanthropist and businessman Frank Lowy, who did not attend uni.