Student demand warrants more places

Monday, 19 January 2004

The University of Adelaide today said continued growth in demand for university education in South Australia justifies the call for an increase in Commonwealth-funded places.

Under the current system, the Commonwealth instructs universities how many subsidised places it is able to offer.

In reiterating an earlier call for an increase to the number of student places available in South Australian universities, Vice-Chancellor Professor James McWha said there is sufficient evidence to show that many South Australians will be denied a university education.

"The demand to study at South Australian universities has increased steadily over the past four years representing a 12.5 per cent growth for the State, and a 32 per cent rise for the University of Adelaide for the same period," he says.

"The continued growth in demand for entry into South Australian universities represents a strong claim for additional places when compared to Victoria which experienced a decline in 2004.

"Under the Nelson Reforms, marginally-funded overload places currently available to universities will be replaced by fully-funded places. However, there is no guarantee that this will benefit universities currently carrying an overload," says Professor McWha.

Professor McWha said the University's projected overload in 2004 would be more than 15 per cent.

"We did attempt to reduce the overload further in line with the Nelson Reforms, but we felt our responsibility to the state and education in general, took precedence.

"Our efforts to reduce overload this year have meant relinquishing 5.4 per cent of our Commonwealth subsidised places. This, in an environment of growing demand, has resulted in increased cut off scores in the majority of our programs. It will now be tougher for South Australians to study at this University," says Professor McWha.

The University of Adelaide, supported by Senator Meg Lees, and the Hon Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, State Minister for Employment, Training and Further Education, have mounted a sustained campaign to win more places for South Australian universities.

The system explained:

HECS - and the effect of quotas on cut off scores:

  • The Higher Education Contribution Scheme - or HECS as it is commonly known - is a Commonwealth Government scheme, which subsidises university places. For students, this means they effectively pay only a contribution to their tertiary education - the Government pays the rest.
  • As part of this scheme, the Commonwealth instructs universities how many subsidised places they are able to offer. These are called funded load. To meet the load target, universities must assign a quota to each degree program, and the university must be exact in having the right number of students in its programs.
  • Universities select students on the basis of their academic achievements to date, which are converted into a Tertiary Entrance Rank, or TER. For school leavers this is a mathematical calculation from the University Aggregate score into a TER. The TER enables us to easily compare all students who have sat for SACE or IB in South Australia or Interstate equivalents.
  • Students are offered a place in a degree on the basis of their TER. The highest score receives the first offer...when the quota is filled, the last applicant's TER then becomes the cut off score for that year.
  • Cut off scores are affected by supply and demand. Popular degree programs with a small quota have a very high cut off (e.g. Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) has a quota of 20 places and had a 2003 cutoff of 98.65).

Australian Fee-based Enrolment - the scheme in a nutshell:

  • The University has set the cut-off score at a level where students can reasonably expect to succeed in that course. The cut off scores are set at the same academic level for international students.
  • Students who narrowly miss out on a HECS place are still extremely academically able.
  • Because students are not competing for a small number of Government subsidised places, the cut off score does not change.
  • Australian Fee-based Enrolments allow students to study the program of their choice, without the pressure of changing cut-off scores. However, universities are not currently allowed to offer Australian fee-based enrolment places in medicine.
  • The offers for Australian Fee-based Enrolments will be released on Wednesday 21 January.
  • See also:


Contact Details

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814