London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Tertiary Enabling Education: Removing barriers to higher education

Author(s) Muldoon, R.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2011  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell, Europe's Future: Citizenship in a Changing World  
Age group -  
Tertiary enabling education is set to expand in Australia following an extensive review of higher education in 2008 which called for a significant increase in the proportion of students from disadvantaged groups engaged in higher education. The University of New England became involved in enabling education with the launch of the Pathways Enabling Program (PEP) in 2008. The PEP is designed to make the benefits of higher education accessible to people who do not otherwise have the necessary skills and credentials. Typical PEP students are people who have not completed high school and/or have had unsuccessful prior educational experiences. This reflection paper describes the context and key features of the course. It examines the PEP student experience gathered through student reflection activities, informal feedback and standard unit evaluations instruments. It reports on student retention, success and progression rates and compares them with those of students who have entered the university through traditional university entry based on high school performance. Results show that with appropriate nurturing and supportive induction to university expectations, norms and conventions, including meaningful, contextualised tertiary literacy development, many PEP students have a similar propensity for success in higher education as traditional entry students. On the other hand, attrition rates are high and there appear to be causes of attrition which are distinctive to enabling education participants. Understanding this and developing appropriate intervention is critical to further improving the outcomes of the PEP and other similar programs aimed at removing barriers to higher education participation for people previously affected by educational and social disadvantage. Keywords: Enabling education, educational and social disadvantage, alternate pathways, tertiary literacy

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