Students endorse a new pathway to success

Published 24 February 2009


More than 300 people are embarking on the educational adventure of their lives this year through the University of New England’s Pathways Enabling Course.

The “Pathways” course is designed for people who don’t have the educational qualifications required for entrance into university. It enables them to acquire the skills and confidence they need to undertake undergraduate studies while also gaining credit towards a degree.

The course is free, takes one year of part-time study, and is taught via distance education (with an optional residential school).

This is the second year that UNE has offered the Pathways Enabling Course, and its popularity this year is supported by the comments of last year’s students. “I’ve gained so much knowledge about writing at an academic level, what’s involved in studying at university, correct referencing styles, time management skills, and what’s expected of you as a student,” one of last year’s students said.

Others reported that the course had enabled them to develop confidence in their ability to succeed, and to develop “a thirst for learning”.

The Acting Director of UNE’s Teaching and Learning Centre, Dr Robyn Muldoon (pictured here), said the Pathways Enabling Course allowed students to develop the skills to set them on the pathway to success, rather than “jumping in at the deep end”.

“It’s suitable for young people who – for whatever reason – have been unable to finish high school,” Dr Muldoon said.

The program is also suitable for mature-age students, who – particularly in the current economic climate – are seeking to enhance employment opportunities.

“University study can often be difficult for mature-age students,” Dr Muldoon said. “So many students who go straight into study after being away for a long time really struggle. The great thing about the Pathways Enabling Course is that it provides academic and transition support, while remaining flexible. Students benefit by studying at home, at their own pace, while still enjoying UNE’s renowned online support.”

Under the guidance of UNE Learning Advisers, students are required to successfully complete four units: two foundation units and two from the degree of their choice. The foundation units cover aspects of academic literacy and the requirements of successful university study, information literacy related to finding, selecting and using information, computer and Internet skills to facilitate effective learning, and the numeracy and statistical skills required in first-year units of study. The degree units are credited to one or other of UNE’s undergraduate degree programs, most of which are accessible through the Pathways Enabling Course.

Last year’s students – even those who were unable to attend the optional residential school – felt that the online environment kept them in touch with their teachers and fellow students. “The teachers were very supportive, and they will leave a lasting impression on me,” one of last year’s students reported. “The message board is managed really well, and this enabled all of us to feel included, and that we were not alone,” another said. And another commented on the “great mix of age, gender and race” of people in the course.

“Students only need a computer and Internet access to undertake this course, which has set new standards for university alternative entry,” Dr Muldoon said.