Letter to the Editor - Dec 2023

This topic has been debated on morning television in 2023.

I wholeheartedly agree with secondary principals that offering students early entry can and does lead to students slackening off in their studies, particularly after they’ve completed their last assessment task, which can affect the average scores for the school cohort. This is a concern of teachers and principals alike as the assessment marks for the whole cohort can be scaled down as well as it being a poor reflection on the “value added” from Year 9 to Year 12 of individuals and the cohort.

It has been argued that an early entry offer can and does reduce the anxiety of some students. Anxiety is a big issue with NSW Year 12 students, and anything that does reduce their anxiety is worthwhile considering. I’m aware that some universities have ignored the agreed date for offering early entry. In my opinion the universities are motivated by the goal of increasing their enrolment by offering places to students before they choose a different university. I suspect this assists their planning and budgeting. The university closest to where I live offers extra points above the ATAR score to local students to entice the students to enrol locally. An offer of early entry doesn’t necessarily lock a student into enrolling in that course at that university. Is it a binding contract that the student can’t get out of without financial penalty or is it a statement that we would like you to enrol with us and we’ll accept you into the particular course that we are offering?

One of my female students was offered early entry into engineering. I doubt that she would have achieved the ATAR needed for engineering, however the university may have wanted to boost the female enrolment in engineering and may have had a policy of supporting multicultural students. This was a win-win achieved through the university’s early entry program.

We can continue to condemn the universities with good reasons, or we can reflect that there can be positive outcomes from their early entry practices.

Dianne Young