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Aspiring students thrown a lifeline

date:Feb 06,2013 source:互联网 editorial staff:linan clicks:

Pathways colleges give those with a low ATAR a second run at university
Pathways colleges give those with a low ATAR a second run at university
Grateful . . . Erin Dooley, who took a course at UTS:Insearch to get into media and communications at UTS.
Getting a low school mark doesn't mean you'll never get into your dream university course. Just ask Erin Dooley, a journalism student at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), who was devastated when she got an ATAR in the low 60s.
''I'd focused on only about two or three subjects [such as English] that I really liked and got in the 90s on them,'' Dooley says. ''But the other subjects really dragged me down. I guess I had been less mature and a bit lazy.''
Dooley didn't give up when she realised she wouldn't get into a communications course in any metropolitan university. Instead, she looked at alternative pathways and found UTS:Insearch.  Ei Study update: This is a private college owned by the university that enables school leavers and mature-age and international students to complete a diploma and enter any UTS university degree in the second year (except law and nursing) if they get good marks.
''I never had more than 20 students in my class, and the material was so engaging, I got high distinctions,'' she says. ''I worked much harder than I had in the HSC because all of the subjects were more relevant.''
UTS:Insearch is one of several colleges that offer students a second chance to get into university. Its general manager for education, Tim Laurence, says the college teaches students to become independent learners.
''We do our best to ensure students understand key concepts in bite-size, digestible chunks,'' he says. ''Students learn communication skills, academic essay and report writing, and how to research and work in groups.''
To be accepted for the diploma course, students must achieve a minimum  ATAR of 62 (67 for business courses).  Ei Study update: Those with a lower ATAR are encouraged to take a foundation course, Laurence says, before they embark on their diplomas. If they achieve a high enough grade point average over the three semesters, they can enter the second year of their chosen degree.
''Even though we're in a separate building, students feel part of the UTS from day one,'' he says. ''They can use the UTS library 24/7, be part of sporting clubs and use the gym and medical centre. A number of our lecturers also work at UTS. There is good connection and support from the university.'' Students can also get a federal loan to assist with all or some of their fees.
At the University of Western Sydney, UWS College is a pathways college that helps 300 students a year get into university degrees, its chief executive, Kerry Hudson, says. ''Initially what we do is a lot of one-on-one counselling to get you thinking about where you are going,'' she says.
Depending on their ATAR, students choose from an eight-month foundation program in an arts, business, computing, nursing or science stream that can give them another go at getting into their first year of university. Alternatively, they can go straight into the diploma program in a range of courses if their ATAR is over 50.
''You do two semesters of subjects with us over three semesters and then go into second year - about 80 per cent of our students do,'' Hudson says.
The number of students assisted by UWS College's programs is set to triple by 2014, as the university completes building works on purpose-built facilities in Bankstown, a new structure in Nirimba, and an outreach program in Lithgow.
The University of NSW is extending its preparation program with a pilot scheme this year. The program, originally for mature-entry applicants for two decades, is now open to an additional 100 students aged 17 to 20 who didn't achieve the ATAR required to get into university and who can demonstrate social, educational or economic disadvantage. Ei Study update: UNSW's initiative is covered by federal funding for social inclusion. It doesn't lead into the second year of a degree, but does give students a second chance of entering the first year of their first preference.
''Students who go to good schools have a better chance of getting into university, and with this program, we are trying to make the playing field equal for those who are disadvantaged,'' the program's co-ordinator, Dr Dominic Fitzsimmons, says. ''We've chosen the most general degrees to start with.''
Fitzsimmons says students will be prepared at a level close to first-year standard. ''While we will provide the scaffolding for learning, we will take it away at some point.''
Erin Dooley, who has completed the second year of her bachelor of arts in communication (journalism) course at UTS, says she is grateful for getting a lifeline into her degree but thinks there's room for improvement in the system. Ei Study update:
''Sometimes I think that while Insearch helped us with the subjects, they could have done more to prepare us for the actual transition to uni - made us more aware that classes would have 100 to 200 people and tutorials 30 to 40,'' Dooley says.
''You don't have the support network here [at uni] that you had at Insearch, and some people just don't have the initiative and aren't doing that well. ''I'm lucky because I have focus. I know I want to be a journalist and work on indigenous issues.''

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