27/11/2007 - 22:00

Drop in uni enrolments

27/11/2007 - 22:00

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Universities in Western Australia are facing a drop in student enrolments next year, with the number of applications falling and more potential students joining the state’s booming workforce.

Universities in Western Australia are facing a drop in student enrolments next year, with the number of applications falling and more potential students joining the state’s booming workforce.

Non-school leaver applications have decreased in WA by a third, according to the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre, while overall enrolments are down seven per cent.

At the University of Western Australia, applications from non-school leavers have fallen by 18 per cent, while Murdoch University has also reported a decline in mature aged applications.

The fall in mature-aged applications has been greatest at Curtin – down about 20 per cent – which can be attributed to the strong local jobs market, according to the university’s director of student services, John Rowe.

Mr Rowe said applications from school leavers had also declined slightly, by about four per cent, although he said the university usually received a late boost in applications around this time of year. 

“One of the issues that might encourage the non-school leavers into study is more flexible learning, both in terms of delivery of units and also part-time programs,” he said.

“We’re also looking at ways of enhancing distance delivery and block teaching for the fly-in, fly-out area of the market.”

Mr Rowe said Curtin was aiming to implement some of these changes, such as consolidating units and offering distance teaching for mine site workers, in time for next year’s mid-year intake. He said Curtin had a significant intake for semester two this year and was anticipating a similar sized intake next year.

At Edith Cowan University, non-school leaver first preference applications are down six per cent. Director of student services Glenda Jackson said the mature aged category had also fallen, although it was difficult to assess the size of the decline because not all applications were processed through TISC.

“A lot of mature aged students come to us directly and because we’re three months away from the beginning of semester, many students will not have made up their mind as to whether to apply,” she said.

Mature aged students make up about 50 per cent of ECU’s total student intake, which is a higher proportion than at most other WA universities.

Ms Jackson attributed the decline in applications to the state’s buoyant employment market, and said the university was considering new ways to attract potential students, including fly-in fly-out workers. 

“We’ll obviously look at flexible pathways and make it easier for people to apply, as well as making the delivery of programs more flexible, including off-campus and online programs,” she said.

Churchlands-based Navitas, formerly IBT Education Ltd, reported earlier this week that local enrolments were down by 17 per cent nationally in the third quarter, compared with last year.

However, international enrolments were up 23 per cent, contributing to a 17 per cent increase in equivalent full time student unit enrolments in semester three.

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