Uni entry transparency reforms to boost graduate quality

Media Release
  • Minister for Education and Training

New data on university graduate outcomes and experiences released today is just one element of the Turnbull Government’s comprehensive higher education admissions transparency reforms that the Education Minister has detailed and says will “lift the quality of graduates going into the workforce”.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the new Graduate Outcomes Survey data published on the popular Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website would complement the Turnbull Government’s moves to deliver clearer information on university entry standards and a one-stop shop for students looking for guidance on if and what to study.

The Turnbull Government has today accepted all 14 recommendations from the Higher Education Standards Panel following a review into higher education admissions throughout 2016 to tackle issues that families and students faced when considering further study.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the higher education admissions transparency measures such as clearer data on student experiences, outcomes and employment prospects would ensure prospective students and their families have the information they need to match their interests and ambitions with their abilities and needs for their future studies.

“These reforms are about clearing away the fog and double-speak that has clouded higher education admissions processes so prospective students can make well-informed decisions about if and what they want to study,” Minister Birmingham said.

“We’ve heard too many stories about students who have changed courses, dropped out because they made the wrong choices about what to study, students who didn’t realise there were other entry pathways or who started a course with next to no idea of what they were signing themselves up for.

“Transparency and consistency in the admissions process will boost the quality of Australia’s graduates across all fields because no matter their dream career, becoming a teacher for example, they will for the first time be able to get a crystal clear understanding of what their university and course expect of them and what doors it will open up for them for the future.

“With the new data on the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website and our admissions transparency reforms we want to better support higher education providers to assist their students to pick the right courses that will see them land a job or develop skills that will help them after they graduate.

“The Turnbull Government’s reforms put the onus on universities and higher education providers to be upfront and honest about what they can offer prospective students. There will be no more hiding behind fluffy descriptions of entry requirements or inaccessible information on graduate outcomes.”

The Higher Education Standards Panel, chaired by Professor Peter Shergold AC, made 14 recommendations including:

  • to develop a national higher education admissions information platform as a ‘one-stop shop’ for students and families looking for information about admissions policies and processes
  • to better define ATAR admissions thresholds so they are more useful to prospective students
  • to adopt common language on admissions processes, requirements, and thresholds across the sector to ensure greater consistency
  • to use information templates to deliver a common approach to the presentation of admissions information and data on entry pathways, and
  • that State Tertiary Admission Centres work together to establish more consistency and streamline the burdensome processes and costs for interstate applications.

Minister Birmingham said he would update the country’s Education Ministers on the Turnbull Government’s admissions reforms at a meeting in Melbourne today to ensure all levels of government work together with education institutions to make the changes.

Minister Birmingham said some higher education providers were already publishing more transparent information about their admissions processes, and called on the rest of the sector to “follow their lead”.

“With the autonomy accorded to higher education institutions comes a responsibility for them to be accountable for the information they make available to students about their education options and admission requirements,” Minister Birmingham said.

“These reforms will help ensure Australia’s unis and higher education institutions are turning out the best teachers, nurses and doctors, engineers, businesspeople, lawyers and scientists to name just a few professions. It’s in the interest of Australia’s future workforce that prospective students and their families can easily navigate the higher education system and clearly understand an institution’s admission requirements because that will set them up for success.”

“The Turnbull Government is committed to implementing the recommendations as quickly as possible either through voluntary adoption across the sector, or through additional regulatory or funding obligations where necessary,” Minister Birmingham said.

“That’s why we’re establishing a joint implementation group with sector and student representatives to implement these reforms to improve the transparency of admissions policies and processes, and commit to making consistent, comparable information publicly available.

“This is a shared responsibility that will produce shared benefits.”

Minister Birmingham has asked Professor Shergold and the Higher Education Standards Panel to continue their work to provide more information to students through examining what evidence-based strategies can be developed to better support students to succeed and how institutions can improve their practices to help boost course completion rates.

The Higher Education Standards Panel’s report Improving the Transparency of Higher Education Admissions is available for download at: https://docs.education.gov.au/node/42146 and the full government response is available at https://docs.education.gov.au/node/42341

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