The Influence of Gender, Age, SES Background and VET Qualification Entry Level on Undergraduate Academic Performance at an Australian University

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Alessandro LOVAT, Faculty of Arts The University of Adelaide, Australia
Igusti DARMAWAN, School of Education The University of Adelaide, Australia
With the changing face of higher education across the globe more diverse pathways are being taken to university undergraduate programs by socially diversified cohorts of students. Australia, while being a smaller player on the world stage, is recognized as one of the first countries to expand their higher education sector in an attempt to widen access to those groups that had hitherto been underrepresented. Most recently Australian government policies have been directing universities to incorporate non-traditional entry pathways that are theoretically widening participation to include students coming from specific groups including those from a low social economic background. In particular, over the last seven years funds have been offered to several Australian universities to establish credit transfer pathways between vocational educational & training (VET) institutions and universities. Many universities that have taken up the VET pathway initiatives have been those that traditionally had already been recruiting a wider section of the community. Interestingly, however, at least one elite university has also taken the step of establishing many such pathways. This study, being part a much larger investigation on student persistence, assesses how students making use of these newly established VET pathways perform during their first semester of university studies at an elite Australian university where these students are very much a minority group. This session reports on several quantitative analyses investigating how four socially sensitive variables: gender, age, social economic background and vocational qualification entry level are interplaying upon their influence on academic performance. Of interest is whether or not these pathways can perform their intended function of helping to redress social inequalities often prevalent in traditionally selective universities.