Secret Report On Universities Offering Teaching Degrees

The ABC News website today has an alarming article regarding universities offering teaching degrees to students with sub-standard ATAR scores.

There is also an interesting knowledge quiz linked to the article.

Very concerning that these persons will be teaching our children or grandchildren.

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FWIW there is also ample evidence academic success does not always translate to teaching competence, but without a basic level of subject matter competence the rest should be irrelevant.

The ATAR is a curious creature that is a composite of multiple metrics.

Lets assume one had a gift for maths but could not get through English Lit if Shakespeare was a personal tutor, nor any other subject for lack of interest or acumen. Could that person be a solid maths teacher? I suggest so.

While it is inappropriate that teachers come from ‘the lower echeons’ consider the pay, what teachers endure, and consider why a top or even better student might chose teaching above accounting or law or medicine or engineering or nursing or … and many students would prefer going into the trades where they enjoy their work and if able can become independent business people with comparatively low hurdles of entry.

I taught high school for a few years at the beginning of my adult life and decided teaching was not for me for reasons from the ever-increasing administrative burden to the arbitrary decisions of ‘the department’ to the ‘joys of dealing with parents of feral students’. FWIW I was routinely tasked to teach subjects I was unqualified to teach, save for having a teaching degree. To quote oft used words, ‘How good was that?’

If society wants higher ATAR scores for teachers society needs to make teaching a respected profession with commensurately attractive pay and conditions. Those who bleat about the numbers of holidays for teachers and their ‘9-4’ jobs do not have a clue.


Why should we be alarmed?

Regardless of ATAR scores all these entrants still need to pass the university courses they have been admitted to. There will be reasons individuals have been admitted regardless of ATAR results. It would seem foolish of us to judge these decisions without intimate knowledge of each individual that has been accepted.

Having experience of two TAFE’s and University I’ll volunteer that there are many very highly ATAR scoring students who have taken on courses to the detriment of the professions to which they have gained access. There is much more to teaching, most notably in the earlier years than maths etc. It requires a certain state of calm mind and communication skills that no ATAR result measures.

Teaching is a hands on skill. I have often witnessed University lecture theatres empty of 200 students while a recognised senior academic deftly illustrates why they would never pass a single school teachers assessment.

Perhaps we should be alarmed about this referenced news item for a very different reason?


May I suggest that the real issue is lack of funding to universities? With the move to user pays, away from the Government paying fees for Australian students, the universities need to fill places to their maintain funding.

To keep the numbers up, the ATARs entry levels have had to drop. In the race to compete with other universities, not lose funding, and keep the sausage factory running, the Universities’ care factor over the quality of graduates has diminished over time


On looking at other news items about the ATAR entrance scores some actually mention that many of these low score ATAR entrants undertook other tertiary entrance methods to actually get into the courses such as Tertiary Preparation semesters. Many Non English Speaking background students, ATSI, Mature Age entrants and similar may have poor ATAR scores yet with provision of appropriate skilling are able to complete degrees with great results/success.


I had one of these ‘academic successes’ teaching my masters degree at Uni. I memory serves, consistent 70+% failure rate. Could bore the pants off a brass statue.

This is correct, but I gather from interviews on ABC TV this morning these other entrance people only make up a small percentage of the lower end scores.

It was suggested that the lower end entrants would have difficulty understanding the material they were meant to teach.

The question that needs to be answered is: “The bottom line is: are the universities given a minimum intake prescription by their vice-chancellor, which they are obliged to try to meet?” Professor Mack said.

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All this public comment re entry to University to gain a teaching qualification must be disappointing for anyone who has been accepted and has an ATAR that is now being challenged in the media?

I’d feel a little less worthy.


Written by journalists I’d suggest - who mostly can’t seem to master a spellcheck :wink:


How is that even a question? Who says “computer tablets”? are the computers taking tablets? prescription or non-prescription? are they “tablets containing computers” for use by the students? are they taken orally or inserted elsewhere? I’m confused, but I don’t think I want my kids going to this school …

Plugging in a few random answers and the test gives responses like “Nope”, “Nailed it”, “Bang on”, “Right on” … oh dear …

When I think about the teachers I had, the teachers I know in my family and the teachers my kids have/had there are many very important qualities that directly influenced good outcomes that I don’t believe an ATAR will ever reflect …