Should students lose Commonwealth support for failing to complete subjects?

Post updated 1/01/22: Clarifying that the rules apply to non-completion of subjects as well as academic fails, updating to take account of amendments, and removing now irrelevant 2020 content.

—————————-

On 1 January 2022 a further element of the Job-ready Graduates package commenced, which restricts Commonwealth support for students who fail to complete at least half the subjects they have taken.

General rule – failing to successfully complete more than half of subjects leads to loss of funding entitlements for that course

The general rule is that students who fail to successfully complete more than half their subjects in a course will lose their entitlement to Commonwealth support: section 36-13 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA 2003) for Commonwealth supported students, for FEE-HELP students section 104-1A . At public universities, FEE-HELP borrowers are mainly postgraduates, as they cannot offer undergraduate full-fee places except in narrow circumstances.

Read More »

Is grade inflation a problem in Australian universities?

In his multifaceted critique of higher education in The Australian yesterday, Adam Creighton makes one infrequently-made claim: that ‘grade inflation is rife’.

In Australia we often worry about soft marking at the pass-fail point, which Adam also mentions. But grade inflation controversies overseas are about too many students receiving high marks. In England, an increase in the proportion of students receiving first-class degrees from 16% in 2010-11 to 29% by 2017-18 has attracted the regulator’s attention. In the United States, critics complain that ‘A’ is the most popular grade.

Australian universities are not required to report student marks, and so we cannot conclusively confirm or reject the grade inflation hypothesis. But the figures we have do not look overly-skewed to the top.

In a paper looking at the relationship between ATAR and socioeconomic status, the NSW Universities Admission Centre earlier this year reported on first-year university grade point averages (GPA). They used a 7 point scale for their GPA.

The UAC’s main point is that ATAR rather than SES best predicts GPA. But it is striking that even the most able first-year students, coming into universities with ATARs of 90 or above, averaged less than a credit grade.Read More »