First published with The Courier – https://www.thecourier.com.au/story/5174590/why-did-fed-uni-first-round-teaching-offers-plummet-this-year/?cs=62
The number of Victorian students offered a place to study teaching in 2018 has decreased from previous years, data shows, with new entry standards in force.
Federation University made 34 first round offers to students with teaching as their preference in 2018, a drop from 174 offers made the previous year.
The new minimum statewide ATAR to enter a teaching course was raised to 65 in 2018, as part of state government excellence in teacher education reforms. There was previously no minimum statewide requirement, only a ‘clearly-in’ ATAR set by each university.
The change coincided with a 22 per cent decline in offers made to aspiring teachers in the first round of university offers, an analysis by Fairfax Media found.
Federation University acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Leigh Sullivan said teacher education programs at the university had consistently had strong demand from students throughout regional Victoria in previous years.
“Prior to this year FedUni used a range of criteria other than ATAR to select teacher education students,” Professor Sullivan said.
“The introduction of a minimum ATAR has seen students throughout the state miss out on an offer, with FedUni making 34 first round offers in 2018 compared to 174 in 2017.”
But Professor Sullivan said other programs available at the university as a pathway to teaching had received significantly more applications in 2018 compared to last year.
FedUni made 90 offers in 2018 to the Bachelor of Education Studies and Bachelor of Sport, Physical and Outdoor Education compared to 32 last year.
Students who perform well in the Bachelor of Education Studies program after one year can apply to transfer into the Bachelor of Education in second year, which is an accredited teaching degree.
The Bachelor of Sport, Physical and Outdoor Education can provide a pathway for students who are interested in becoming physical education teachers.
In contrast to the decreased number of teaching offers at Federation University, Australian Catholic University (ACU) Provost Professor Pauline Nugent said ACU had made a small increase in offers to students who wished to study teaching in Ballarat.
“ACU remains a popular choice for Ballarat students wishing to pursue a career in teaching. There has been greater demand for initial teacher education courses and we have made a small increase in offers,” she said.
“These results demonstrate ACU’s sustained commitment to quality applicants who go on to complete their training, ready to work in schools in Ballarat, elsewhere in Australia or overseas.”
The minimum ATAR for university teaching courses will be raised to 70 in 2019 under the new reforms, meaning aspiring teachers will need to rank among the top 30 per cent in the state.
The move is part of a state government push to raise the quality of teaching in Victoria, and is supported by the Australian Education Union.
But Federation University’s Professor Sullivan said the entry requirement change risked limiting the pool of regional teachers who would teach the next generation of regional students.
“Given that these teachers often work in regions that have teacher shortages, it also risks compounding the problem of under-supply of teachers in regional areas,” he said.
It will be compulsory for universities to base entry into teaching courses on both academic performance and personal attributes suitable for teaching, as a result of the state government changes.
The reforms will also provide 60 scholarships a year for students from regional areas or disadvantaged backgrounds to study teaching at Victorian universities from 2018.
Professor Sullivan said it was not too late to study at Federation University, and interested students were encouraged to call the university to discuss their study options.