Foundation students' dropout rate a worry

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Photo / Thinkstock.
Photo / Thinkstock.

More support is needed for students doing foundation courses at tertiary level as many are dropping out before gaining a qualification, a report shows.

Others complete a course but are less likely than other students to continue their studies towards a bachelor's or postgraduate degree.

The report - Lifting Our Game: Achieving greater success for learners in foundational tertiary education - looks at issues affecting students enrolled in level 1, 2, 3 and level 4 bridging programmes around the country.

Foundation courses are offered to students, some of whom do not have school qualifications, to allow them to meet the criteria for further tertiary study. At the end of 2010 foundation students made up a third - about 160,000 people - of the tertiary population.

The report was done by a working group commissioned by the Ako Aotearoa Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence in Wellington.

Some of the main issues facing students at this level, as shown in the report, include a low completion rate, a low number of people going into further tertiary studies and a lack of data about education at this level.

At the start of this year, less than 39 per cent of students at level 1 to 3 who began their studies in 2006 had finished a qualification.

In terms of the number of students going on to higher tertiary education, by the end of 2010 just a third - 35 per cent - of students who enrolled in 2005 had then enrolled in a higher-level qualification.

Progression rates for Maori and Pacific students were higher, with 50 per cent and 42 per cent respectively going on to enrol in further education.

Director of Ako Aotearoa Dr Peter Coolbear, who chaired the working group, said the Government and training providers needed to work together to help students.

"Most of the time we're dealing with quite unconfident learners. They have struggled at school ... the trick is to build their motivation. The foundation courses are very much a second chance for them.

"We need to make sure that learners in these programmes receive good, appropriate support and guidance from the organisation, including during the enrolment process.

"Support should also be integrated into programmes, rather than something extra that learners have to access."

The report follows an announcement this week from training provider Best Pacific Institute of Education, based in Auckland. The institute, which celebrated 25 years of helping students last week, said it was aiming to open up to 12 new campuses in the greater Auckland and Wellington region by 2030.

Director of Pacific education and development Rachel Skudder said she agreed with the report, particularly the fact that students in this group needed greater encouragement.

THE ISSUES

* Low completion rates.

* Low progression to higher study.

* Lack of detailed information about education at these levels.

- NZ Herald

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