Capping day as university limit numbers

By Martha McKenzie-Minifie

New limits on student numbers at the University of Auckland were approved by its governing council yesterday.

The country's biggest university is preparing to restrict entry to all undergraduate courses from next year.

The controversial step will allow better control of student numbers and is driven in part by the Government's new tertiary education funding model - which means the university could face financial strife if admissions suddenly grew.

Limits for previously open-entry courses - including arts, education, theology and first-year law - were made public for the first time in council papers yesterday.

The limits largely matched this year's admissions.

Entry to the bachelor of arts qualification, for example, will be capped at 2000 domestic students next year, compared with the 1679 students admitted in unconstrained conditions in the first semester this year.

"We are expecting to admit very similar numbers of new undergraduate students in 2009 as we did in 2008," said deputy vice-chancellor (academic) Professor Raewyn Dalziel.

Council member David Do, the Auckland University Students' Association president, abstained from the vote based on his general opposition to the elimination of open entry.

But Mr Do told the Herald he did not vote against the proposals because there was provision for targeted admissions to address concerns that the student body would become less diverse.

"The limits themselves don't appear to be very problematic," he said.

Courses that already had limited entry were also facing change.

The bachelor of business and information management limit was to be slashed from 350 students this year to 150 next year.

Professor Dalziel said the qualification had never reached capacity and the drop meant the incoming limit better matched the actual number of student applications.

"It was a very, very high limit."

She said faculties across the university looked at demand over past years in setting the numbers.

"What we've asked them to do with the new TEC [Tertiary Education Commission] funding policy is to set a number which they think is a number that will keep their intake constant," said Professor Dalziel.

Selection criteria for entry to courses were also laid out in the documents.

Professor Dalziel said a small number of courses using a "first in, first served" basis were all elective papers, so it was not essential for students to get in to obtain a qualification.

She said the restriction might encourage students to apply on time - which would be a plus for the university.

* The numbers

Bachelor of Arts

2008 admissions (semester 1 only): 1679 students.

2009 limit: 2000 domestic students, 120 international students.

Bachelor of Education

2008 admissions: 539 students (plus 60 expected mid-year).

2009 limit: 650.

Bachelor of Theology

2008 admissions: 47 students.

2009 limit: 60 students.

- NZ Herald

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