Multiple Entry Points

Author – Dr Amanda Pearce, Victoria University, Australia

Amanda is Associate Director, Portfolio of Language and Learning, at the Victoria University College. Amanda oversees a cross-sectoral portfolio at Victoria University encompassing English language programs for on- and offshore international students and for domestic Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) students; preparatory Further Education (FE) courses in the TAFE sector from Certificate IV to Diploma level; academic transition; Academic Language and Learning (ALL) support in the Vocational and Higher Education (VE and HE) sectors, including collaborative projects with staff; and student academic peer mentoring and Student Rovers. Originally an English language teacher, she has collaborated with HE discipline staff in First Year (FY) curriculum design projects since the early 1990s. She coordinated the introduction across VU HE of five Core Graduate Attributes (CGAs) in 2003-4 and is currently revising the VU CGA policy to harmonise CGAs with Employability Skills across VU’s 3 sectors. Her publications focus on NESB immigrant workers and student diversity, and her PhD thesis explores contending discourses about work, education and training, ethnicity and language. She is a co-author of Valuing diversity: Experiences and achievements of non-English speaking background students at Victoria University (2000), and of Smoother pathways from TAFE to Higher Education (2000).

Further information is available from the Victoria University.

First Year Curriculum Perspective

The perspective represented by this commentary on the case studies and first year curriculum design is that of a university (Victoria University, Melbourne) with multiple entry points into the first year student experience (pdf 1.72MB). At Victoria University students may enter their first year from school in Australia or another country; from employment or unemployment; or from TAFE programs within or outside the university. Further, the students themselves may be international or domestic students from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds (CALD), and may be studying in university programs on- or off-shore.

Victoria University’s emphasis on articulation pathways means that students may undertake the equivalent of first year in higher education in a way that is fundamentally different from the unitary, potentially bonding experience of being part of a commencing cohort that begins the same program of study in the same place and at the same time. For example: articulating students gain credit based on their TAFE studies for many or all of the units of study normally taken in first year, and may proceed directly to the second semester, the second year or even in some cases the third year of a degree. Students who undertake their first year offshore in the university’s China programs take their first year in the form of a TAFE Diploma offshore and then articulate onshore, or to one of the Degree programs offered offshore.

It was beyond the scope of this Fellowship to examine specifically the experience of first year students who enter the curriculum at points outside the first year curriculum. The experience of those students demands dedicated and specific attention and, as a sector, we need to be careful about the nature of the advance standing we award (first or later years subjects) and the role of bridging courses for tertiary transition if advance standing is given into later years.

While the Fellowship focus has been curriculum (rather than the experience of commencing students) this Commentary provides a valuable insight into another area greatly deserving of our attention in program design and the student experience.