Failing university students to get the boot
The Dominion Post
Thousands of students could be booted out of university this year for
underperforming in a crackdown on those with poor marks.
Financially stressed universities have revealed they will significantly
increase the number of students who are shown the door, saying they only
want “motivated students”.
The automatic right of people aged over 20 to university courses could also
be under threat, as universities warn their budgets are at breaking point.
Massey University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey said universities had been
left with no choice.
“We will be excluding students who underperform. There will be a significant
number, there’s no doubt about that. We want to create space for motivated
Prospective students will also face a grilling, with universities making no
apologies for the tough stance.
“We have thousands who want to come here, but we will be carefully sifting
through the applications and some tough calls will be made. We will be very
careful about who we let come here. I expect all universities will be in the
Canterbury University is also cracking down. It excluded 827 underperforming
students last year, compared with 203 in 2008.
The university’s academic quality assurance unit manager, Heather Dickie,
said a strict exclusion policy was necessary to keep standards high and
scrutiny of students was set to intensify this year.
The university has introduced a policy in which any student whose grade
point average is less than 1.5, or who has not passed half or more of their
courses will have their progress automatically reviewed. Grade point
averages are ranked up to nine.
Union of Students Associations’ co-president David Do said student groups
were already seeing an increase in exclusions for poor academic performance.
“They’re using the policy as a punitive tool to clear students off their
books due to constrained funding.”
Student associations were concerned that toughening up admission
requirements went against New Zealanders’ sense of fairness and their
sentiment that people should be given a “fair go”.
“Open entry is a very important feature of the education system. It’s a
cornerstone of our public tertiary education system.”
Mr Do said the Government needed to increase university funding.
Each university has a specific number of students funded by the Government.
They are allowed to take in more, but they are not funded.
Vice-chancellors’ concerns about underperforming students while funding is
capped has triggered a review of university entrance standards that will be
completed this year.
However, Tertiary Education Minister Anne Tolley has told the sector it
cannot expect funding to cover the increase in students.
In the Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-15, released last month, she
revealed that tertiary funding would be linked to performance, initially
focusing on students’ results.
Victoria University vice-chancellor Pat Walsh has also warned that
underfunding means the university will have more unfunded students this
Last year the university had 650 unfunded students, which equated to a loss
of about $5 million.
New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee deputy chairman Roger Field, of
Lincoln University, said rather than kicking students out of university, his
preference was to let in only those who were likely to succeed. A “major
overhaul” of entrance standards was needed.
“University entrance standards don’t exactly assist us at this point, so if
we want to limit entry we have to apply particular standards for particular
– By NATHAN BEAUMONT, KIRAN CHUG and REBECCA TODD