Improving Selection for Social Inclusion
The weighted average marks of first year students admitted to Monash with SEAS eligibility are consistently higher than those of other students with the same achieved ATAR
Monash University recognises that a range of structural and personal factors affect students’ school achievement, and that the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) alone may not reflect students’ academic potential.
Through the Special Entry Admissions Scheme (SEAS), Monash University considers factors including: financial disadvantage, mature age, attending a rural or isolated school or a school under-represented in higher education, Indigenous status, non-English speaking background, difficult personal circumstances and disability or long- term medical condition. Eligible students may receive points in these categories. Points are added to students’ aggregate study score, resulting in an adjusted ATAR.
From 2011, Monash has renewed its efforts to target SEAS more effectively to address educational disadvantage, and to monitor the achievement of SEAS-eligible students admitted to Monash degrees. This involves extensive analysis of Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre data and Monash University data to determine the impact of SEAS.
Monash has also increased efforts to communicate how SEAS works and encourage more students to apply. The key tool for doing this is the SEAS Calculator which allows students to self-assess their eligibility for SEAS and model their adjusted ATAR. Monash also works with Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre to simplify the SEAS form and reduce the amount of information students are required to provide.
The result is a simpler and fairer system of special consideration in admissions.
The objectives of improving the SEAS at Monash are to:
- recognise that students who have been disadvantaged will often perform better at university than their school results suggest
- extend opportunity to students who have achieved well in spite of adversity and who could succeed at Monash
- provide a consistent and transparent way of taking into account the nature and extent of disadvantage.
The analysis and policy development to revise SEAS at Monash has been undertaken by staff funded through HEPPP, in collaboration with Monash staff from other organisational units. HEPPP funding was used to develop the SEAS Calculator.
“I have found the SEAS calculator to be an invaluable tool… It is a concrete and functional interactive device that has helped forge a better understanding of the significance of the SEAS application process amongst my students.” – school careers practitioner.
The effectiveness of selection for social inclusion at Monash is gauged by the number of applicants benefiting from special consideration through SEAS, and by the success of those students compared to other entrants.
From 2011 to 2012, the number of applicants to Monash who received SEAS bonus points increased from 9,564 to 10,718. In 2012, 47 per cent of SEAS applicants were awarded bonus points. Simpler documentation assisted students to demonstrate their eligibility – for example, 80 per cent more students received points for financial disadvantage.
The weighted average marks (WAM) of first year students admitted to Monash with SEAS eligibility are consistently higher than those of students who were not eligible for SEAS consideration. For example, SEAS- eligible students who achieved an ATAR between 80.00 and 84.99 had a WAM of 65.5 compared to 62.7 for non-SEAS eligible students in the same ATAR band.
Monash will continue to promote SEAS to all applicants, and to monitor and refine the operation of the program to widen participation and support achievement in Monash degrees.
This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.