Flip-flopping flunkers told to get real
Students ‘ill-prepared for tertiary life’
QUEENSLAND school leavers are struggling to perform at a tertiary level because they are underprepared for university life and have unrealistic expectations about what it will entail, according to a top university.
Boys are more likely to fail, flunking subjects and racking up HECS debts as they chop and change degrees, the University of Queensland has warned.
UQ says students need better advice in high school about what they should study to get into university, how much it will cost them, and what university life will be like.
“It might be helpful if students could be better advised in high school about the costs of further education and the need to be realistic about their preparedness for university study and program selection,’’ the university told a federal parliamentary inquiry into the school-to-work transition.
“It may also be helpful for high school students to have realistic expectations about higher education and the differences to secondary school, particularly in relation to greater independence and responsibility, and being a selfdirected learner.
“Our experience is that many students struggle to make this transition.’’
UQ told the inquiry it had a “large proportion of male students who fail courses – and continue to do so over additional years of study – until they decide to leave … having accrued course debts for failed courses’’. “These students also often change their program of study,’’ the submission states.
UQ data provided to The Sunday Mail shows that on average, male students failed 12.9 per cent of their subjects last year, while female students failed 8.7 per cent.
Students can repeat failed subjects but they accrue extra debt through the Federal Government’s HECS-HELP loans scheme because they are charged tuition fees each time.
UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Joanne Wright said girls tended to be more mature than boys beginning university at the age of 17 or 18.
“We know males are less mature at that age and are bigger risk-takers,” she said.
“It could be they take on a subject and don’t really apply themselves.
“Incorrect program choice features quite prominently, and that would suggest possibly some degree of immaturity.’’
Professor Wright said females passed more university subjects, even when both genders achieved the same OP rank in high school.
She said too many teachers and parents encouraged students to choose “easy’’ subjects at high school.
“We could be losing immense talent just because a teacher or parent isn’t prepared to have a hard conversation with their child,’’ she said.
Hugh Lilley, 24, has almost completed a Bachelor of Business Management at UQ and said that it took him longer than expected to discover what he wanted to study.
The degree is his third after he dropped out of a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Journalism.
“I was just so young, quite immature, not exactly thinking constructively about what I should be doing,’’ Mr Lilley said.
IT COULD BE THEY TAKE ON A SUBJECT AND DON’T REALLY APPLY THEMSELVES JOANNE WRIGHT
THIRD DEGREE: Hugh Lilley embarked on several courses before studying business. Picture: AAP/ Josh Woning