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CUP Programme Closure will have adverse effects on students

DATE Wednesday, 16 November 2011
FROM Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association

CUP Programme Closure will have adverse effects on students

Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) is disappointed that the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has decided to cut all funding to pre-degree courses previously offered at universities around New Zealand. This decision has already impacted students in the Wellington region through Victoria University of Wellington’s (VUW) decision this week to close its Certificate of University Preparation (CUP) Programme.

Because there are no alternatives on offer in 2012, this now means that students wanting a second chance at higher education in the Wellington region will have no options available to them.

VUWSA submitted both a written and oral submission against the proposed closure of the University’s CUP Programme, and urged the University to consider alternative forms of funding to ensure this valuable programme continues.

VUWSA President Seamus Brady said that Victoria should not assume that creating pathways through special enrolments will mitigate potential adverse effects on students.

“The reality is that Victoria (along with other universities that have cut pre-degree courses) risk creating a negative image amongst New Zealand’s most marginalised groups. These groups should have the right to ‘get amongst the best’ and should not be deterred because of educational inequalities they have experienced that may have been beyond their control.”

VUWSA’s submission was based on feedback gathered from over 70 Class Representatives and students from a number of CUP and degree programme courses. It highlights that the closure of the CUP Programme will significantly deter many students from higher education.

Student feedback focused on four main areas: The advantages of the CUP program as a smooth transition to university requirements for studying; the variety of skills taught; the opportunity to have a ‘second chance’ at education and how this provides fairer access for many people. Finally, there were many comments regarding the emotional benefits of the CUP programme including instilling confidence, a good work ethic, and a desire to contribute back to the university community.

Mr Brady said that whilst VUWSA understands the broader policy constraints limiting the offering of pre-degree programmes, the reality of cutting the CUP Programme altogether ignores the strong student support and need for the CUP Programme that currently exists.

“The closure of the CUP programme clearly signals to prospective students that unless their secondary schooling experience has prepared them for university, or they have a degree already, higher education will simply be out of reach for them.”

“This has the potential of creating an ‘elitist’ conception of university. It also has the potential of denying the many attributes that ‘mature’ students bring to the campus in particular. In many senses it narrows the education path of people to a predefined, rather archaic way of looking at education.”

“It dismisses life experience, wisdom and knowledge gained through other means. Vitally, however, this elitist model assumes that everyone has had equal access to academic knowledge and should be able to adapt ‘overnight’ if they enrol to study.”

“Students for whom education opportunities have been limited (such as people with refugee backgrounds), or English as a second language, or those that are transferring their knowledge from a practical basis to an academic one will find that pursuing a university education much more daunting, and for many, impossible, without the CUP Programme.”

Within its submission, VUWSA encouraged the University to be a more vocal defendant of the right to provide opportunities for learning for everyone in New Zealand.

VUWSA is the official representative body of students at Victoria University of Wellington and has been advocating on their behalf since 1899.


Student Quotes

We would lose a valuable base of students. Some students have trouble at high school and miss UE by very little but still wish to attend universities like VUW. CUP gives these students the chance to further their education with a degree rather than just a certificate or diploma. The same applies to mature students who have been out of the education system, giving them a chance to ease back in. [Closing CUP] creates a stronger divide between haves and have nots. There are plenty of highly capable people who for whatever reason didn't quite make it through 7th form, who will be left alienated by these changes. Moving these kinds of programmes outside of the university creates a bigger divide and will destroy confidence of university hopefuls -- confidence which is buoyed by placing the program within the VUW environment.
The CUP course is a brilliant preliminary or bridge into the academic life of Victoria Uni. If this is too be neglected then Vic will lose a valuable area which attracts those who which to complete the course. This in itself may not be hugely significant, however altogether i believe that it is an incredible 'resource' and attraction to those who do attend or consider attending Vic. [CUP] is a bridge which enables people form mixed backgrounds to gain access to university, which is more important now that entrance into university has become closed to those who do not meet criteria. People grow away from a schooling system which may not have suited or been able to support them when they were young. So although they may have failed high school they are still able to realise their potential through university education. it is one bridge which helps to open up social closure in this system and society, which of course has ongoing generational affects for individuals and groups.
[CUP] Provides an additional opportunity for those who didn't excel at school but decided to try again with University - this is a crucial part of ensuring we have a diverse, educated population and one that encourages learning and second chances. Also, for mature students such as my Mother who has started her first degree at the age of 53 after completing a CUP similar course - she is loving the environment and the new ideas she is learning and I it makes me upset to think others would be denied this experience.
A fantastic and vital bridging program for students who didn't quite get UE first time round, but are totally capable of being proper university students. I benefited a lot from the program and to have it within the university environment gave me huge confidence that I could continue upwards directly into VUW afterwards. Placing the program in a polytech or other would not be nearly as good, the transfer would not be nearly as easy. I would not be so confident in either making the effort to enrol if the program were at polytech/ITO, and I would be weary of the fact that a polytech/ITO program would be not nearly as good as a VUW one -- because VUW is directly aware of what CUP students need to know to function in their (VUW's) environment, and because these other options are meant to be cheaper... meaning they'll probably be worse. Surely only a VUW run program within VUW can give students the best preparation and confidence to enter VUW, simple as that. Moving CUP/CUP-like programmes outside of the university environment simply makes no sense.


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