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Victoria graduates are world leaders

MEDIA RELEASE 12 November 2003

Victoria graduates are world leaders

Victoria University sets high standards for its students and is not pumping out substandard graduates, says Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon.

Professor McCutcheon was responding to an editorial in The Dominion Post that suggested universities, including Victoria, were allowing students who cannot write to graduate. The editorial also suggested students should not be allowed to attend university if they cannot demonstrate they have mastered the art of writing by the time they leave school.

"Victoria University prides itself in the quality of its graduates. Our graduates have gone on to succeed in postgraduate study in some of the best universities in the world while others have succeeded at the highest levels of business, commerce and the public sector. To suggest that Victoria is pumping out substandard graduates and that anyone who enrols in a university course should expect to pass is patently false. Earlier this year, the University moved to raise entry standards for international students to ensure that those attending Victoria had the best chance to succeed."

In 2002, the average pass rate at the undergraduate level for students who enrolled for a course was 81 percent.

Professor McCutcheon said comment on this issue was not new but failed to recognise the massive increase in tertiary participation rates in recent years.

"Successive governments have made it a priority for New Zealand to be a nation of well-educated people and the numbers with tertiary qualifications are still lower than many other western countries. But increasingly, more and more students are recognising the value of a tertiary education. Whereas 20 years ago, many people who left school with basic university entrance went straight into work, now they are often opting to go to university. Victoria's roll has almost doubled in the last decade."

Professor McCutcheon said Victoria had recognised that some students might struggle and had set up courses to provide them with assistance in key writing and numeracy skills.

"For students under 20, the Associate Deans in our Faculties are now requiring students whom they believe will struggle, to undertake our Certificate of University Proficiency which includes skills on writing in an academic environment. For those who are over 20, and under the Education Act have the right to attend university regardless of whether they have university entrance, our staff strenuously urge them to undertake the certificate programme."

Professor McCutcheon said the Certificate programme was one of a number of courses and support programmes that the University provided to those who might need additional skills.

Professor McCutcheon said in some programmes, not all students who necessarily passed their first year courses were allowed to proceed further.

"In law and architecture, for example, although there is open entry to the first year, only so many students are allowed to complete the qualification. Those who do not make the grade can credit their passes to other qualifications.

ENDS

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