More university places for low-SES students

Published 30 April 2012

A recommendation from their school, and not their academic grades, could secure university positions for more than 100 low-SES school leavers every year under a joint initiative by the University of Sydney and the University of New England.

At the official launch of the Alternative Entry Pathway in Armidale yesterday, UNE’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, and the University of Sydney’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, congratulated the six students who had been accepted into the program for 2012.

Around 120 positions will be available in the 2013 intake, with Tamworth and Armidale schools being included to the list of more than 60 eligible high schools – predominantly in the Sydney area.

The number of courses that are eligible for the Alternative Entry Pathway will also be expanded in 2013 to include qualifications in Computing Sciences and Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Professor Barber said that the Alternative Entry Pathway relied 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.

“This pathway has allowed these students to begin their studies at UNE this year and, if they pass their subjects, to be guaranteed entry into the second year of the equivalent degree at the University of Sydney in 2013,” Professor Barber said. “Research shows that students from low-SES backgrounds are disadvantaged in their ability to achieve a high ATAR, and this program provides them with a level playing field.”

Dr Spence said the pathway allowed for the recruitment of the most promising students, whatever their social and cultural background.

“If students show they are capable of academic success, then we want to help them succeed in their chosen studies,” Dr Spence said. “The Alternative Entry Partnership demonstrates both institutions’ commitment to improve the standards for social inclusiveness and access for all to higher education.”

Additional support is on offer to Alternative Entry Pathways students to facilitate their transition to university study.

The program is funded through the Commonwealth Government’s Structural Adjustment Fund.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows the Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, and the Chancellor of UNE, the Hon. Richard Torbay, at yesterday’s launch of the Early Entry Pathway.