Friday, August 3, 2018

Australia's education sector putting money ahead of standards :The trend continues, aided and abetted by TEQSA

by Ganesh Sahathevan


Nicholas Saunders TEQSA Chief Commissioner

Professor Nick Saunders AO (Chief Commissioner)


The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is an Australian  government body that is meant to ensure that  the hundred of thousands each overseas student hands over to Australian colleges and universities actually purchases a worthwhile degree.
It is headed by one Nicholas Saunders (photo above).

Over the past three months Saunders and TEQSA have been queried about the finances, infrastructure, academic qualifications and teaching standards at a private college in Sydney which has an on-line offering actively promoted in South East Asia.

His response, to sum up,has been to ignore, deny, and obfuscate. 
He has done so despite being provided evidence which has included written responses  from the dean of a law school in Malaysia which confirmed that the principal of the private college in question had at the very least exaggerated his seniority and nature of work in Malaysia.

In a sense Saunders is typical of the modern Australian academic who has discovered that students from Asia are an easy, cheap way to make money while enjoying "marketing trips" to especially now China.
The article below from Singapore's Strait Times is but one example of what Asians have seen for a long time as a naked cash grab.
Adding  to the problem is the fact that there is no real avenue to complain about low standards, or universities providing educational goods and services way below what students have paid for.

While TESQA is supposed to provide an avenue for such complaints, Saunders himself has been caught referring complaints back to the university or college concerned. His excuse: Students are required to address their concerns to the internal complaint process.

That approach works well when a student complains about marking and grades, but clearly the wrong avenue when the complaint is about the product.
END 




Alarm over Aussie unis' low 

entry standards


The University of New South Wales is among those found to have been accepting students whose high school rankings were well below the advertised minimum. Critics have accused the universities of boosting enrolment to increase revenue, saying the deci
The University of New South Wales is among those found to have been accepting students whose high school rankings were well below the advertised minimum. Critics have accused the universities of boosting enrolment to increase revenue, saying the decision to let in substandard students has drained resources and led to bloated class sizes.ST FILE PHOTO

Many students don't make the grade, but varsities have other admission criteria

Universities in Australia have been accepting large numbers of students who fall below the admission requirements, prompting concerns about a decline in the nation's education standards.
The falling entry standards came to light after figures were published last week by Fairfax Media showing that leading universities in the state of New South Wales have been accepting students whose high school rankings were well below the universities' advertised minimum.
These included Macquarie University, where 64 per cent of students who were offered places for this year had a ranking below the cut- off. The figure was 46 per cent at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), 27 per cent at the University of Sydney, and 59 per cent at Western Sydney University. Universities in other Australian states reportedly had similar numbers.
The figures sparked a debate on whether universities were allowing standards to slip or whether the problem was with catch-all ranking systems that do not consider a candidate's other qualities.
New South Wales State Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said he believed the admission practices of the universities risked damaging their international reputation.
NO EXCUSE
I'm annoyed that universities are taking students with such low marks... For universities that are concerned about their rankings internationally to be taking in students with such low (admission scores) is not a good look. I know they have funding pressures, but that is no excuse.
MR ADRIAN PICCOLI, State Education Minister of New South Wales, saying he believes the admission practices of the universities risk damaging their international reputation.
Australia has about 300,000 international university students, with six universities in last year's top 100 world rankings by Times Higher Education.
Mr Piccoli told Fairfax Media last week: "I'm annoyed that universities are taking students with such low marks... For universities that are concerned about their rankings internationally to be taking in students with such low (admission scores) is not a good look. I know they have funding pressures, but that is no excuse."
Most local undergraduates in Australia are admitted into university on the basis of the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank - a percentile score that shows how students performed against other students.
The move to admit an increasing number of students with lower admission rankings followed the federal government's decision in 2012 to allow universities to offer as many undergraduate places as they like. The total student population went from 1.26 million that year to 1.37 million in 2014, an increase of almost 10 per cent.
Critics have accused the universities of boosting enrolment to increase their revenue, saying the decision to let in substandard students has drained resources and led to bloated class sizes.
But universities said admissions are not based merely on a catch-all ranking and take into account other factors such as a candidate's leadership skills, community contribution and where he went to school.
Professor Iain Martin, a deputy vice-chancellor at the UNSW, said universities have various schemes to add points to a student's ranking. This could be based on a student's performance in subjects relevant to a particular degree, or whether he is socially disadvantaged.
A government study in 2014 showed that students with lower rankings are less likely to complete their courses.
Mr Andrew Norton, an expert on higher education at think-tank Grattan Institute, said it was important to ensure disadvantaged students have an opportunity to attend university. But, he added, it was also important to provide support to students with lower rankings to help them complete their degrees.
"Reform needs to be geared towards not just increasing enrolment, but to what is in the best interests of students and prospective students," he wrote on The Conversation website on Jan 21.
"We want to give them a chance to complete a degree, not just to start one."
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2016, with the headline 'Alarm over Aussie unis' low entry standards'. Print Edition | Subscribe



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