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March 8, 2015 | by  | in Homepage News |
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Mind the Gap

Students Failing to Get UE Ushered Into Uni Anyway

VUWSA is calling for an urgent review into changes made to University Entrance standards after 2014 saw a dramatic drop in Year 13 students gaining UE and 123 students requiring remedial work before gaining entry to Vic.

After the implementation of tougher standards by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority last year, students now need 60 credits overall to gain UE—an increase on the previously accepted 42. The number of NCEA Level Three credits required from approved subjects has also increased, from 14 credits each from two approved subjects to 14 credits each in three approved subjects.

58.3 per cent of year 13 students achieved UE last year, compared to 71 per cent in 2013, a reduction of around 4,400 students. Only a third of Māori and Pasifika students gained UE, down from about half in 2014.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has defended the changes, saying a drop was expected. However, when NZQA announced the change in standards, the organisation claimed it did not expect a dramatic fall in the number of school leavers achieving UE- oh how wrong they were.

The University remains supportive of the changes. Dr Allison Kirkman, Vice-Provost (Academic and Equity), said the new standards “reflect the level of learning students need to reach in order to be successful at university.”

360 students without UE applied to study at Victoria in 2015—double the usual figure, according to Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford. 175 would have had enough credits for UE under the old standard.

Victoria worked individually with the 175 students, 121 of whom went back to school—either their high school or correspondence school—and gained the necessary credits to study at Victoria in 2015. Two students were also accepted under special admission.

“These students have been assessed, received good literacy and numeracy results and, overall, had excellent academic standards,” Kirkman said.

VUWSA has criticised the changes, and says that the drop following the new standards “show that we are losing potential bright minds at university.

“Forcing students who just miss out on UE to do bridging courses only increases the already high level of debt that they will graduate with,” said VUWSA President Rick Zwaan.

The PPTA has also criticised the changes, and has called on NZQA to investigate “because we want to see whether the changes have actually had the desired impact.”

Harlene Hayne, chairperson of Universities New Zealand, said that universities support the changes, but the number of students falling short was well over their estimates and she was “not sure what else we can make about the very high number of students who didn’t make the cut.

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