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SA universities revamp bonus entry points

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South Australia’s three major universities have announced sweeping reforms to their bonus points systems in the wake of criticism the points were being used as a marketing tool rather than to help disadvantaged students.

From 2015, the universities will replace their separate bonus points schemes with a single standardised approach for disadvantaged students and those who have studied specific subjects.

The “SA Universities Equity Scheme” will give five bonus points to disadvantaged students.

Those students will be selected using national measures of disadvantage, rather than the secretive – and often seemingly arbitrary – internal measures the universities currently use.

A second scheme will award up to four bonus points to students studying languages other than English, as well as specified English and mathematics subjects.

The subject bonus scheme will award two points per subject to a maximum of four points. Subjects that earn bonus points will include languages other than English, English Studies, English Communications, Mathematical Studies and Specialist Maths.

Bonus points are added to a student’s tertiary entrance score.

InDaily revealed last year many of the state’s wealthiest schools were classified as disadvantaged under the universities’ bonus points schemes.

InDaily also revealed internal criticism from the head of one university’s bonus points program that the program had been captured by the university’s marketing department.

Soon after, the three universities announced a review of the bonus points scheme – the results of which were released today.

“Over time, the various schemes have evolved to a point where, in some ways, they had started to lose sight of their original intentions,” University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Professor Warren Bebbington said in a statement.

“We were seeing students choose courses based on how many different bonus points they could attract rather than focusing on what was the best higher education option for their future.

“We wanted an equity scheme to embody the original purpose of redressing socio-economic disadvantage.”

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