Universities Australia produced two interesting press releases this week:
Official data shows the number of people applying for a place at university fell slightly in 2018 as the job market picked up.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said applications to universities from students from all equity groups – and poorer households especially – had also fallen and this was a sad reversal of good progress made in previous years.
“Specifically, cuts that have been made in past years to the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) – which funds support programs for those who might be first in their family to attend university – seem to be biting this year,” Ms Jackson said.
The number of applications from Indigenous Australians fell by 5.2 per cent in 2018 – the first recorded fall after growth every single year since 2010.
“This is a setback after a decade of consistent growth in Indigenous applications and we all need to put our shoulders to the wheel to close the gap in university education and transform lives through opportunity,” she said.
The number of people offered a place in a teacher education degree – the pipeline for the next generation of teachers in our schools – fell by 11.4 per cent in 2018, a possible signpost of a future skilled teacher shortage ahead.
With an increase to the ATAR for our UG ITE program to 70 in 2019 we anticipate numbers for our undergrad programs will again be affected. We await the pop polls next week to get an indication of impact.
In better news, data just released show a small increase in retention, with more university students completing their degrees. Attrition, which was 14.97% in 2015 improved to 14.32% in 2016.