Saturday, January 14, 2012

Universities raise the bar

You will have heard murmurings that getting into University was going to get tougher. Good thing too. But I must admit I thought to myself, they will probably tinker with the entry requirements at the margins. I was vaguely interested because they affect my son this year. He isn't the most academically inclined and I am in no position to criticise him because he gets it (or in this case, doesn't get it) from me. We are both very focussed, to the point of obsession, in those matters that interest us. If they don't it's a struggle to concentrate. For him it is music. And we are all supporting in him his attempts to build a career around it.

Next year he continues his piano studies and music production. But he had planned to do two papers at the Victoria School of Music. Yesterday he found out that, despite having passed the music school's requirement - sat a theory test - he missed the overall entry requirement for Victoria University by 5 points and is now wait-listed for the papers if a place becomes available. The university raised the requirement from 120 points in 2011 (I am told) to 150 in 2012. Good for them.  Son will have to redo one of his NCEA papers and re-apply. Fortunately he is young for his year. Many other 17 year-olds are only starting year 13 next month.

Somewhat surprisingly he's more relieved than disappointed. I hadn't realised he was dreading a major fail - a miss by a mile. And that his parents would, in his words, "go ballistic". We didn't. We talked about it, the options and we move on. Both of my children are musical and their performances, when they are in the zone, move me immensely. Robert's practising of Bach, Rachmaninov and Chopin fills the house and I couldn't be happier. At 17 he is extremely self-aware. Is utterly determined to make his life count for something. To make it matter. How could I be disappointed with that?


gravedodger said...

A niece after completing pre-nursing at CPIT with excellent numbers applied for full training but after all the shennanigans around quotas and manipulation of the entrants found she was 16th reserve for the next course.
She had resisted my suggestions of a large lump of neophrite on a bootlace and using the appropriate greetings and phraseology and was proved right when about 9 days before the course started got the call. It surprised me how many gained the right then forswore the opportunity.
IMHO Robert should be thinking it will happen as he plans his alternatives.

BTW I envy the music in the house bit but with only a keyboard here it just wouldn't be the same.

Anonymous said...

It surprised me how many gained the right then forswore the opportunity.

All good NZ tertiary providers are seeing greatly increased enrollments this year. That's because - only now, thanks to John Key's policies - are we seeing real competition.

Even a couple of years ago, prospective students would only apply to one or two providers, typically those in their own home towns. This year, students know they have to fight for places, so they are applying to six or eight providers to ensure they have *somewhere* to go.

This will be why your child has been wait listed, and also why he is very likely to get in if he does want the place.

One thing you expect from next year is a modest fee - say $100, for every application, waived with good marks, or if you get in.

Psycho Milt said...

It's fairly straightforward: the recession means more people are trying to study rather than chase jobs that are getting harder to find, but the recession also means the number of places funded by the govt is tightly capped, so the universities are restricting entry (which they're quietly pleased to do, because the standard of the intake's been falling). Foreign applicants willing to pay full fees generally don't face any restrictions as they represent income rather than expenditure.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Thanks for the feedback. PM, would you know what the ratio of foreign students is to domestic?

Anonymous said...

It used to be a bums on seats policy, as it brought in lots of revenue for the universities. However, they found that many students dropped out or just did not complete their courses. Change is a good thing.

Psycho Milt said...

Sorry Lindsay, I missed your question earlier. The number of overseas students at most universities tends to run at around 10-15% of the number of domestic students. I think Lincoln's the only one consistently below 10% foreign. The numbers are publicly available via the NZ Vice Chancellors' Committe (now 'rebranded' to the meaningless Universities New Zealand), at - look for the annual reports. It varies with exchange rates, but all the universities are currently working on increasing their foreign student numbers as it's income not restricted by the govt's funding cap.