Mission makes difference

Record enrolment despite odds against it

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Enrolment for semester one this year is 1372, 25 more than the previous semester one record last year. Registrar Dr Gwen Wilkinson: “Students could have gone elsewhere, but they didn’t.” Credit: Colin Chuang.

A record number of students are studying at Avondale College of Higher Education this semester despite universities offering an uncapped number of Commonwealth supported places.

Enrolment for semester one this year is 1372, 25 more than the previous semester one record last year. This equates to 580.75 when measured as equivalent full-time student load (EFTSL), an increase of 7.2 over the previous record set in semester one 2009. EFTSL relates directly to income.

“We’ve maintained good enrolment,” says registrar Dr Gwen Wilkinson. “Students could have gone elsewhere, but they didn’t.”

Gwen had some concerns about the impact of the federal government uncapping Commonwealth supported places this year.

Students in a Commonwealth supported place get help from the government and pay a lower tuition fee called the student contribution amount. Uncapping allows universities to offer a place to any number of eligible students—Avondale can offer places only to eligible students in the national priority areas of education and nursing.

Increases in those areas contributed to the record enrolment.

With 325 students—another record—the Bachelor of Nursing remains the most popular course at Avondale.

The number of students completing the Bachelor of Education (Secondary) is also up, from 77 last year to 105 this year.

And enrolment in the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) continues to grow from the previous record of 71 in semester one last year to 84 this year.

Avondale is maximising the support it receives from the government, with every eligible student receiving the offer of a Commonwealth supported place receiving one this year. And it has good reason.

The uncapping of placements and the high Australian dollar, which reduces the number of prospective international students, has increased competitiveness among all higher education providers, says director of advancement, marketing and admissions Colin Crabtree. “I have no doubt Avondale’s mission of focusing on Christ-centred ethical values and the whole person is the reason we’ve continued to grow while many universities have not.”