Pathways from VET awards to engineering degrees: a higher education perspective

King, Robin and Dowling, David and Godfrey, Elizabeth (2011) Pathways from VET awards to engineering degrees: a higher education perspective. Technical Report. Australian Council of Engineering Deans, Sydney, Australia.

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Abstract

This report provides an analysis of the provision and effectiveness of pathways to engineering degrees from award programs operated by the VET sector as a strategy to increasing engineering graduate numbers. The emphasis is on the pathways from VET Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas in engineering areas into Bachelor of Engineering degrees. The perspective is that of the engineering faculties and schools in the higher education sector. VET Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas in engineering are competency-based programs aimed primarily at occupational outcomes. VET Advanced Diplomas in engineering may be accredited by the professional body (Engineers Australia) for entry to practice as Engineering Associates, although, to date, few VET providers have sought such accreditation. The provision of VET Diploma and Advanced Diplomas in many engineering disciplines is not uniform across the Australian states, with almost no provision of some disciplines outside capital cities. The number of graduates from Advanced Diploma programs in engineering is small, thereby restricting the size of the pool of students who are qualified to articulate into bachelors degrees. All Australian universities accept students into engineering on the basis of complete or incomplete prior study in VET. Approximately six per cent of all Australian students commencing bachelors degrees in engineering gain admission on this basis. The proportion of such students varies widely between institutions and institutional groups: the largest participation rates are in dual-sector institutions and non-Go8 metropolitan universities. The universities have developed systems to award credit for prior learning in VET awards. For engineering degrees, most deal with VET-qualified applicants on a case-by-case basis, because of the highly varied and modularised nature of the VET competency-based qualifications. The mismatches and gaps between the content of these qualifications and engineering degree programs are seen to be the biggest barrier to successful articulation. The degree graduation rate of VET-qualified students is, on average, significantly less than that of school-leavers. Several universities have developed Associate Degrees, Foundation Programs, and higher education Diplomas as pathways into engineering degrees for students who do not meet the full requirements for direct entry into engineering degrees. These programs are curriculum-based and match their content to the requirements of the degrees to maximise credit. Associate Degrees may also be accredited by Engineers Australia as the entry qualifications for Engineers Associates. Some VET institutions are also developing Associate Degrees in engineering. The growth in these higher education awards may be reducing the numbers of enrolments in VET awards in engineering. Fifteen recommendations are proposed to improve the effectiveness of articulation pathways. Some require the higher education engineering schools to develop closer and more effective collaboration with the VET sector and industry. Others, such as widening the scope of aptitude testing for degree admission, diagnostic testing of students followed by academic and other support, and improved timetabling for part-time students, are entirely within the scope of the engineering schools, and are likely to improve the retention and success rates for all students. Given the skills shortages in all engineering occupations, the findings of the study strongly support the development of measures to increase the numbers of qualified Engineering Associates and Engineering Technologists, through development of programs for entry qualifications for these occupations offered by both the VET and higher education sectors.


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Item Type: Report (Technical Report)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: A commissioned report for the Australian National Engineering Taskforce by the Australian Council of Engineering Deans. The use of material from that report is covered by the Creative Commons licence.
Depositing User: Prof David Dowling
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Surveying and Land Information
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2011 07:24
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2014 05:26
Uncontrolled Keywords: engineering education; engineering technician; articulation; VET
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130199 Education systems not elsewhere classified
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170103 Educational Psychology
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130213 Vocational Education and Training Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/19376

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