Poor-performing University of Otago students could be
suspended earlier under changes being considered at the
university, partly because of pressures from a tighter
However, an Otago University draft report on possible
students enrolment limits, obtained by the Otago Daily Times,
rejects imposing any big new limits on first-year enrolment
The report, by a university senate working party, recommends
a policy change, from next year, under which students who
passed fewer than half of their course points would be
suspended after two years, rather than the current three.
Students would move on to conditional enrolment after one
year of poor results rather than the present two years.
Earlier and more effective "pastoral support" should also be
Students suspended from other universities because of
insufficient academic progress should also not be permitted
to transfer to Otago until their suspension was over, the
Otago University's present more open approach to such
transfers was inequitable and it risked "becoming a refuge
for poor-performing students from elsewhere".
Research showed that students who spent their first year in a
university college of residence were more academically
successful than those who did not.
The university should aim to allow local students to also
attend such colleges on the same basis as non-locals, the
Tighter restrictions on entry to many courses have been
considered by several universities after the Government last
year moved to a more constrained funding system, and away
from the previous demand-driven approach, under which funding
automatically followed enrolment.
The report warned about the risk of the university carrying
some unfunded students, where enrolments exceeded the total
negotiated with the Tertiary Education Commission.
The economic downturn was boosting student enrolments, but
was also constraining the Government's "ability and/or
willingness to fund growth".
Prof Gareth Jones, the deputy vice-chancellor, academic and
international, who convened the 10-strong working party, said
he could not comment at this stage, as nothing had been
The report had not yet been considered by the university
senate, and no recommendations had been made to the
university council, officials said.
Otago's current "academic progress policy" did not serve the
best interests of either students or the university.
Of the 130 students who started this year on conditional
enrolment and completed semester one papers, 45% failed to
pass any points, and a further 15% passed some points but
less than half for which they had enrolled.
"Poor-performing students can take up an inordinate amount of
academic staff time, which must inevitably be at the expense
of time devoted to other students, to research, or to
University of Otago draft report recommends policy changes to
counter poor performance and a tougher funding criteria.
Among the recommendations:
- Earlier suspensions for under-performing students.
- Students suspended from other universities should not be
permitted to transfer to Otago until their suspension was
- University should allow local students to attend
residential colleges on the same basis as non-locals.
- Concern over "special
admission" students - domestic students who are legally
permitted to enter university because they are aged 20 or
over, but have not met academic requirements for earlier
- Of the 4167 first-year students enrolled last year, about
94% were New Zealand citizens or residents, and about 89% had
NCEA Level 3 or equivalent, or an overseas qualification.
- About 450 were special admission students. About 19% of
those students failed every paper in which they enrolled, and
a further 10% passed less than half.
- Only 2% of those admitted via NCEA Level 3 failed every
course in which they enrolled.