Facilitating the learning journey from vocational education and training to higher education
Written by Janice Catterall, Janelle Davis and Dai Fei Yang
An increase in students who enter higher education in Australia following their studies in the vocational education and training (VET) sector has led to heightened national interest in the transition experiences of these students. This paper reports on the experiences of students who, as a result of their VET studies, entered a relatively new, large, metropolitan university in 2009 and 2010 in the fields of Business and Law, Early Childhood and Nursing. The investigation elicited responses from students about a range of personal, administrative and academic experiences. A total of 529 students responded to a survey, 74 students were interviewed by telephone and 33 students attended focus groups. A major finding of the research was that many students saw the new learning context as a positive factor and responded to challenges with enthusiasm and resilience. Despite this, it seems that the transition period, particularly the first semester of study, is an unnecessarily stressful time for many students and that this could be mitigated by the provision of timely information about differences between institutional and learner expectations, workload, administrative processes and learning practices.