Poor Students Top Performers at Elite Unis

Poor students top performers at elite unis
Luke Slattery   From: The Australian   December 09, 2009 12:00AM
STUDENTS from poor backgrounds are less likely to attend the nation's prestige universities, but those who do are likelier to finish their degrees, according to a report by the Group of Eight.
The report, released earlier this week, will inform a Go8 equity strategy that is being hammered out in response to the federal government's call for a boost in the proportion of undergraduates from low socioeconomic backgrounds to 20 per cent by 2020.
The report found 72.4 per cent of applicants to Go8 universities achieved an equivalent national tertiary entrance rank score of more than 80.05 last year and of these only 10.4 per cent were from low socioeconomic backgrounds. But the imbalance was corrected to some extent by better retention and academic success rates for students from these backgrounds.
"Retention rates were higher in Go8 universities than any other universities across all equity groups in the five-year period from 2002 to 2006," the report says. "The difference was greatest for remote students (77 per cent in Go8 universities, 66.9 per cent in other universities) and indigenous students (70.2 per cent in Go8 universities compared with 60.6 per cent in other universities)."
The report says the dropout rate for low-socio economic status students, likewise, is lower within the Go8 than outside it.
The Go8 report comes after the federal government released its own attrition figures for 2001-07 which revealed a national dropout rate of 18.9 per cent for undergraduates. The worst rate, of 40 per cent, was found at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in the Northern Territory, while the lowest dropout rate, of 8 per cent, was recorded by the University of Melbourne.
Earlier this year the Go8 was stung by a higher education equity report written for the University of South Australia's new National Centre for Student Equity in Higher...