Emma Pressley 0

Flinders University Placements

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To the Flinders University Vice Chancellor,

The Flinders Education Student Association (FESA), with the support of the Flinders University Education cohort are petitioning the university to reassess the Education degrees in terms of inadequate or inappropriate Professional Experience Opportunities.

In 2015, approximately 30 BEd (MSS) students did not receive Professional Experience in the appropriate timeslot or schooling level. Students were sometimes placed in a school during a different time in the year, while others were placed in primary schools. This does not seem like an imposition, but it means students may have to extend their degree by 6 months. In 2016, this number is expected to increase.

With only approximately 85 secondary schools in South Australia permitting placements for Flinders University Education students, and approximately 300 BEd(MSS) students at Flinders University, there is an obvious surplus of students to placements. Additionally, UniSA, The University of Adelaide, and Charles Darwin University need placements in schools for their students, so Flinders University Education students are left to compete with these universities. This is also a burden on the School of Education staff, who have to find places for these students.

Another factor affecting Professional Experience is the Postgraduate degree, which sees students on placement at the same time, competing with the undergraduate students for secondary school placement opportunities.

These factors have a ripple effect. Not only does this have the potential to affect a students’ placement, but this also results in a surplus of Education graduates for the limited teaching job opportunities in South Australia. Lack of appropriate Professional Experience is potentially damaging to the futures of many graduates, and this impacts students from all streams within Education.

Professional Experience is crucial to the learning process of Education degrees. Proper management of student intake is crucial to the adequate provision of places. When students enter degrees with compulsory Professional Experience components, which cannot be fulfilled due to imbalanced student to place ratios, this reflects poorly on Flinders University.

FESA has concluded we cannot let this trend continue without action. There are a number of ways this problem could be addressed. Entry requirements are currently low, with the ATAR scores for entry into Education degrees being set at 70.00. Therefore we feel that the university should actively consider increasing the entrance ATAR. This measure could also result in higher quality teachers, due to an increasing effort required to achieve higher grades to gain entry to the degree. Secondly, with the high number of students in both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees we believe that decreasing admissions to the degrees will also aid in alleviating this issue.

We believe these changes would allow our current and future students a better chance at undertaking an appropriate placement experience, and entering a competitive, but not flooded, employment market.

Vice Chancellor, please witness our petition and take action. This issue is highly regarded within the student cohort and we hope you consider our perspectives.

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