Unique partnership to improve access to higher education

Published 05 August 2011

mouA groundbreaking program to improve access to higher education through the University of New England and the University of Sydney was launched today, with the first students under the ‘Alternative Entry Pathway’ to commence in 2012.

Under the ‘Alternative Entry Pathway’ opportunity, which will be offered jointly by the partner universities, current Year 12 students from more than 60 eligible high schools in Sydney and on the NSW coast can apply to study the first year of selected degrees on campus at the University of New England. In year two of their degree students can transition to the University of Sydney, provided they have made satisfactory progress in their first year of study in approved majors and units at the University of New England.

The Alternative Entry Pathway relies on a school’s assessment of a student’s ability to cope with study at university, rather than their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) or equivalent. The assessment is based on personal attributes, such as the student’s ability to work and learn independently, as well as a judgement about the student’s potential for academic success at university.

The intention of the arrangement is to grant greater access for students who are eligible for Youth Allowance, who are disadvantaged by their background or geographic location, and who are assessed to be capable of achieving academic success. For each Alternative Entry Pathway student, both institutions will be offering additional academic support to facilitate a transition to university study. Scholarships and sponsorships are also available.

The Vice-Chancellors of both Universities welcomed the partnership.

UNE’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, said: “Students from low-SES backgrounds are demonstrably disadvantaged in their ability to achieve a high ATAR. However, this may not always reflect their ability to undertake a degree successfully. This arrangement levels the playing field for those students, regardless of background. It’s an equity measure with a well-thought-out approach to giving students the best chance of success.”

The University of Sydney’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Michael Spence, said: “This strategy is an important part of our commitment to recruit the most promising students whatever their social or cultural background. We welcome the opportunity to work with the University of New England to achieve increased participation of students at university.”

UNE’s Chancellor, the Hon. Dr Richard Torbay MP, thanked his counterparts at the University of Sydney. “This arrangement is the product of our determination to take a common approach to a public good,” he said. “We all understand that education is the one factor that can make the most difference in life. We are very pleased to have worked with the University of Sydney to come up with such a unique opportunity.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Dr Michael Spence (left) and Professor Jim Barber displayed here was taken at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that paved the way for the Alternative Entry Pathway.