Headstart into university

Headstart into university

Headstart into university


Image credit: F J Gaylor

Macquarie's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor John Simons considers the danger of denying access to tertiary education based on a number and the value of looking beyond ATARs to alternative pathways.

Discussion around the value of ATARs always picks up this time of the year. It's an ongoing debate: can we accurately determine whether a student will succeed at university based on a ranked number? Should we even try?

Too often money and privilege dictate students' access to opportunities. Students from low socio-economic backgrounds can be disadvantaged by lack of resources, choice and opportunity, which can result in a low ATAR.

Even the subjects a student elects during high school can dramatically impact their ATAR score, and their choice of degree and university. If a student performs poorly in certain 'serious' subjects like mathematics, science and economics their ATAR ranking can also be pulled down. If an intelligent and creative student elects to focus, or even dabble, in visual arts, music or drama, their ATAR can also be impacted negatively.

To rebalance the scales universities use adjustment factors to encourage diversity and ensure intelligence, creativity, attitude and passion are part of the equation in determining whether a student should and can graduate from a degree.

Alternative entry pathways and additional points through adjustment factors are valuable because they open the door to a diverse group of students that may otherwise not complete tertiary education. Alternative pathways are central to equity and diversity - and these in turn, are fundamental to vibrant student communities that create real social impact.

Macquarie University's Big History: Connecting Knowledge Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is an educational tool that will provide students with a powerful, and empowering, foundation for university study in any discipline and an alternate pathway into tertiary education. It is available on the COURSERA® platform to all - to high school students, university students and lifelong learners.

Students who verify their completion of the Big History: Connecting Knowledge MOOC can be eligible for 3 additional points towards their selection rank.

Zooming in and framework lectures enable students to understand key concepts through the lens of different disciplines and the unprecedented challenges we face on a global challenge.

The strong focus on critical thinking challenges students to reflect on their thinking process and how we decide to receive and accept information.

By empowering students to connect knowledge across disciplines and to understand concepts pivotal to success within a tertiary institution, the Big History MOOC creates a bridge across any missing gaps - gaps in knowledge or gaps in opportunity.

After all, it is the end result that matters more than where a student starts.

By embracing diversity and celebrating the value in powerful online educational resources such as MOOCs we can even the playing field. Let's open the door to higher education - not block it with a tiny number spat out by a computer.

Enrol in the Big History: Connecting Knowledge MOOC and get a headstart into university today.

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