Patterns of achievement in a tertiary setting

Year: 1996

Author: Vialle, Wilma, Hall, Neil

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In New South Wales, Australia, entry to university is largely determined by the standard score known as the Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER). This score is based on the results that students gain on their high school examinations. Different courses require different minimum scores for entry. The underlying assumption is that the TER will accurately predict a student's chances of successfully completing a particular program. A second issue in universities in New South Wales in the last year has been declining student numbers which have resulted in lower TER scores being set for several courses. Many academics have questioned whether this decline will lead to lowered standards at the tertiary level. In order to explore these issues, an extensive study was conducted at one university in New South Wales. Five cohorts of students were selected and the following information was tabulated for each student: TER; Weighted Average Mean on graduation; Grade Point Average for each year; number of semesters enrolled; faculty of enrolment; gender; and, equity category. This paper will report the results of this investigation with regard to patterns of achievement across faculties and between genders. Implications for admissions policy and practice will also be discussed.