University Preparation Program
The University Preparation Program is identified as a key strategy for improving access and pathways into university for all students
The award-winning University Preparation Program (UPP) is a pre-degree program offered by the University of Tasmania (UTAS). UPP helps to improve access to higher education by providing a pathway for students who do not meet the university’s admission requirements. UPP assists non-traditional students (including those from LSES backgrounds, rural and remote areas, non-English speaking backgrounds, and other students who face barriers to higher education) to build the skills needed for success at the tertiary level.
UPP covers a broad range of skills; including academic writing, mathematics, information technology, communication skills and general study skills. Students may use the course to improve their skills in a specific area and/or to help meet entry requirements for bachelor study.
Since its introduction in the north-west of the state, UPP has expanded to include all three Tasmanian campuses as well as distance delivery. The program has also been incorporated into UTAS’ central admissions system, meaning students not eligible for entry into a bachelor degree may automatically receive an offer into UPP.
The main objectives of the program are:
- to provide a pathway for students who do not meet general admission requirements or who face barriers to higher education
- to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully undertake degree studies, and
- to familiarise students with academic culture and provide a supported introduction to the university environment.
UPP is partially funded by the HEPPP. This funding contributes towards the overall delivery of the program.
The success of UPP is measured by the number of students enrolling in the course, the retention of these students, and their success transitioning into degrees.
Awareness of the course within the community has grown significantly in recent years and student numbers have increased by more than 375 per cent from 2010 to 2013.
While enabling programs generally suffer from high attrition, in recent years UPP has averaged retention of almost 60 per cent. Recent figures also show that 85 per cent of UPP students who passed one or more unit in 2012 remained enrolled at UTAS in May 2013. Evaluation is ongoing in order to measure the impacts of the program into the future.
As the longest-running pre-degree program at UTAS, UPP is identified in the UTAS Social Inclusion Plan 2013–2015 as a key strategy for improving access and pathways into university for all students. Research has identified how key learnings from UPP can be successfully applied in other pre-degree contexts. Previous and ongoing research into the range of medium- to longer-term outcomes from UPP will contribute to the research base on enabling education, and will inform the development of an expanded framework for evaluating the success of alternative pathways to university using a range of qualitative and quantitative measures.
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.