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Mature age people and Year 12 students both benefit from Southern Cross University scheme


17 April 2007
Sometimes when a Year 12 student wants to go to university but realises they have chosen subjects that will give them a poor University Admission Index (UAI) – or, worse still, no UAI at all – they panic.

They fear their dreams of a tertiary education may have to go on hold until they are a mature age student, or else they will have to repeat a year of high school study to get better marks.

But Dr Maria Simms, head of Southern Cross University’s Learning Assistance Unit, has a strategy to help both these students and mature age people get into university study.

An alternative entry scheme called Preparing for Success, managed by Dr Simms, can help bridge the gap for anyone who does not have the formal qualifications or marks to apply for university entry – wherever they live in Australia or overseas, so long as they are Australian citizens.

Many of those who have already enrolled in Preparing for Success are mature age people who have spent their life working or caring for family and now want to pursue their education, Dr Simms said. Others have completed secondary or tertiary study many years ago, but feel they need to brush up on their research and study skills. Indigenous students have also benefited from the scheme.

Preparing for Success is an exciting program established by Southern Cross University last year and is free to students. It has enjoyed phenomenal growth and success, Dr Simms said.

The course offers incredible flexibility in that it can be studied on campus, or at home, or a combination of both, in a solid block of eight weeks over a summer school in December and January, or 14 hours a week for 12 weeks, or even one unit at a time.

It teaches prospective students practical, hands-on skills they will need to pursue their academic studies and gives them a flying start to their studies at Southern Cross.

Graduates of the program gain a grade, just as in regular university study, ranging from High Distinction through to Distinction, Credit, Pass and Fail.

That grade is translated to a UAI and the student then applies to study in their chosen degree program just like anyone else. A student who does exceptionally well in Preparing for Success may get a UAI as high as in the low nineties, enabling them to study a course like Law, Dr Simms said.

The next Preparing for Success course is being offered for Semester 2, beginning on July 23, and students can apply to do the course at any time prior to that.

While doing the course students have all the rights and privileges of a regular student at Southern Cross University.

“We find the students coming through our program are highly motivated to succeed and often do very well,” Dr Simms said.

“Many missed out on an opportunity to study at university in their youth, and may have been socially or economically disadvantaged.

“Others may have made poor Higher School Certificate subject choices and didn’t get the UAI they wanted to study their preferred course, or know they won’t get the necessary marks this year.

“But these students are every bit as capable and committed to doing well as other students who are studying here, so this gives them a real second chance to do well and follow their dreams. For many, this opportunity changes their life.”

Last year, most of the students who enrolled in the program went on to enrol in degree courses.

“The students are incredibly well supported through this program and get a lot of direction and support,” Dr Simms said.

“When they graduate, they really know their way around all the teaching and learning resources the University has to offer, they know how to write essays, do assessment tasks, use the library, use on-line data bases, undertake research and plan their time.

‘The feedback we get is fantastic. Every student should have the opportunity to do this course because it is a real springboard to success in their studies.”

To get more information or to enrol in the course, contact Amanda Parsonage on 6620 3386 or email [email protected].

Photo: From left: Dr Maria Simms, manager of the Preparing for Success program, with first year nursing students Karen Roche and Jenny Hansen.

Media contact Zoe Satherley, Southern Cross University media officer, 6620 3144, 0439 132 095.