An Alternative Pathway for Tertiary Science Education: Managing Student Access, Diversity and Inclusion in Tertiary Level Science

Luby Simson, Tamsin Kelly, Imi Moore, Stewart Pittard, Surendran Mendis, Natalya Lukomskyj, Jim Woolnough


With the global goal of increasing University accessibility and inclusion to a wider demographic of students, managing student diversity in the higher education sector calls for modified approaches to tertiary science education. Student access programs have had various levels of success, with those focused on providing a direct transitory path from secondary to higher education being the most effective. Since adopting a modified admissions policy to the University of Canberra in 2010, we found that students who entered our science-related degrees with an university entry rank or ATAR/UAI of less than 70 or with no ATAR performed poorly compared to students with a higher ATAR/UAI. We have established a new access and preparation program, the Diploma of Science, aimed to cater our diverse student cohort more effectively. The important features of this pathway identified to date include: small classroom teaching with trained teaching staff; trained teaching staff with secondary and higher education teaching experience; and the creation of an inclusive network of support. The one-year Diploma of Science program is designed to articulate directly into our 1st year bachelor science courses providing a 1 + 2.5 model, encompassing foundational knowledge to better prepare students for successful university studies in the sciences and a transformative educational experience.

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