Diploma Pathway Programs: The Offerings of an Australian Pre-University Institute

Diploma Pathway Programs: The Offerings of an Australian Pre-University Institute

Donna M. Velliaris (Independent Researcher, Singapore)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5861-3.ch005

Abstract

As a second chance for prospective students who do not meet initial Australian Higher Education (HE) entrance requirements, “pathway” providers attract (international) students early in their tertiary lifecycle to secure their destination. The pathway model that evolved in the 1980s-90s was developed to address the issue of attrition. This innovative model tailored a learning solution that enhanced student transition (i.e., cultural and social integration and academic support). Increasingly, “pathway” institutions offer valuable partnerships for the Australian HE sector, and it is beneficial to conduct research into this division to strengthen and improve the overall teaching and learning experience. There appears to be scant literature on pre-university pathway offerings within and beyond Australia; thus, the contents of this chapter explicates three diploma programs delivered at one particular institute during the period 2013-2015 in Australia.
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Literature Review

The Pre-University Pathway Model

International student recruitment is integral to the financial health of many HEIs worldwide, in addition to remaining an important means of attracting talent and expanding campus diversity. An environment of budgetary cuts and increasing competition has forced many HEIs to become strategic in their international recruitment efforts (Choudaha & Chang, 2012, p. 3). ‘Navitas’ is an Australian global education leader providing pre-university and university programs, English language courses, migrant education and settlement services, creative media education, professional development and corporate training services. There are more than 80,000 students across a network of over 100+ colleges and campuses in 25+ countries (Navitas, 2014). The origin of the Navitas ‘pathway’ model began with the establishment of the Perth Institute of Business and Technology (PIBT) in 1994. While the private sector had assumed a more significant role in international education within Australia at that time, PIBT heralded a new era of pathway colleges and extended public-private relationships beyond that previously established.

According to Shah and Lewis (2010), in Australia, ‘Navitas contributes to more than 30% of annual international student enrolments with more than AUD$60 million turnover for two year degrees with more than 2500 students each year in each partnered university’ (p. 85). Pedagogically, the pathway model was predicated on the acceptance of students with lower academic entry requirements than for direct university entry. The model provided a ‘second chance’ (Norton, 2013; Ross & Gray, 2005; Tyler & Lofstrom, 2009; Velliaris & Pierce, 2017; Wheelahan, 2009a) to students who did not gain direct entry to mainstream university by offering a more personalised and supportive approach to teaching and learning than would be found in first-year of a traditional HEI environment. It focused on the individual and the development of independent learning, offering additional teaching time, early intervention strategies and a range of support systems. Levy (2007, p. 11) stated that pathways are generally more ‘secular’, ‘culturally diverse’, ‘less politicized’ and ‘learner-friendly’.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Statement of Attainment: The formal certification in the VET sector by a registered training organization (RTO) under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) that an individual has achieved part of a qualification; or one or more units of competency or modules from a nationally endorsed training package; or all the units of competency or modules comprising learning outcomes for an accredited course that does not meet the requirements for an AQF qualification.

International Student(s): Individuals enrolled in the Institute on temporary student visas and who are almost exclusively non-English-speaking background (NESB). An international applicant must be eligible for an Australian student visa and may be liable for international tuition fees. Students are not “international” if they are an Australian citizen, Australian dual citizen, permanent resident (PR) of Australia, and/or a New Zealand citizen studying in Australia.

Group of Eight (Go8): A coalition of leading Australian universities; comprehensive in general and professional education and distinguished by depth and breadth in research.

Articulation: The process by which a university matches its courses or requirements to coursework completed at another institution. Students use course articulation to assure that courses they have previously completed will not have to be repeated at the institution to which they wish to transfer.

Course: A syllabus item offered by the Institute or one subject leading to a diploma award (8-courses required for graduation). Such courses are identified by a subject area and catalogue number (e.g., ECON1008 is a first-year “Principals of Economics” course).

Credit Transfer: The determination, on an individual basis, of the advanced standing the learner is entitled to because of module/course (subject) or unit of competency completed at another institution.

Recognition of Prior Learning: The determination, on an individual basis, of the advanced standing the learner is entitled to as a result of previous formal training, work experience and/ or life experience.

Grade Point Average (GPA): The average of the grades obtained in all courses, weighted by the unit value of each course. If students are enrolled in more than one program, they will have a program GPA for each, calculated using the final grades for the courses associated with each program.

Benchmarking: An ongoing, systematic process for measuring and comparing the work processes of one organization to those of another, by bringing an external focus to internal activities, functions, or operations. The goal of benchmarking is to provide key personnel, in charge of processes, with an external standard for measuring the quality and cost of internal activities, and to help identify where opportunities for improvement may reside. For example, external marking or moderation of grades by an external examiner; formal comparison of student outcomes with another HEI; or nationally through the graduate course experience questionnaire (GCEQ), comparison of quality assurance systems, policies and procedures.

Pathway Provider: Educational institutions that offer students alternative forms of entry into university programs. Applicants may include: early school leavers; those that have not achieved the academic and/or English requirements to obtain direct entry; or students looking to return to study after a period of absence.

Recognized Tertiary Education Provider: An education provider registered by the relevant government authority to deliver tertiary awards.

Advanced Standing (also Credit, Course Exemption, Exemption): Acknowledgement that a person has satisfied the requirements of a module/course (subject) or unit of competency either through previous study (credit transfer) or through work or life experience (recognition of prior learning). The granting of credit exempts the student from the identified course: a student granted credit for a course is not required to complete that course to qualify for the award.

Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR): The primary criterion for entry into most undergraduate-entry university programs in Australia. The ATAR score is derived from a single aggregate score that is the sum of the four best subjects that the student completed at a Year 12 standard added to 10% of the sum of the weakest two subjects (for a total of 6 subjects).

Quality Assurance: The policies, attitudes, actions, and procedures necessary to ensure that quality is being maintained and enhanced. It requires actions internal to the institution but may also involve actions of external bodies. It includes course design, staff development and the collection and use of feedback from students and employers. Quality assurance is also used as a general term to refer to the range of possible approaches to addressing concern for quality in HE.

Registered Training Organization: Organizations registered by Australian state and territory training authorities to deliver nationally recognized training.

Diploma: Comprises 8 courses that take between 6 months and 2 years to complete. Diplomas are generally considered equivalent to first-year at the degree level. Such diplomas in Australia are delivered by universities, technical colleges, and other private registered training organizations (RTOs).

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