The NSW education minister, Adrian Piccoli, says he will talk to his federal colleagues after revelations that students from an elite Sydney private school were granted a shortcut to the University of sydney.
Six Scots College boys were offered places at the university in 2014 after sitting a 17-week diploma instead of the Higher School Certificate ( HSC )
University staff have reportedly objected to the pilot program on the grounds that it lets students buy their way into courses they might not have qualified for via the HSC. The program was devised by the university’s commercially driven arm Sydney Learning, Fairfax reported.
Piccoli expressed concern about the revelations, saying access to university “should be fair and equitable”.
“Any scheme that gives some students an unfair advantage is unacceptable and I will be discussing this with the federal government, which is responsible for universities,” he said on Monday.
The NSW opposition leader Luke Foley said earlier the program undermined the standing of the Higher School Certificate.
“Revelations that a small number of students from a GPS [private] school can avoid the HSC and sit a fast-tracked diploma to gain access to university will alarm many students and parents,” he told reporters in Sydney.
Scots is continuing the pilot with another 11 boys this year, but the University of Sydney’s academic board has resolved that diploma applicants below the age of 21 would now also need the HSC or an equivalent qualification, Fairfax reported.
The course in question – the Diploma of Tertiary Preparation – is usually aimed at mature-age students who have missed out on the HSC.
Scots students who passed with an average of 65% or more were reportedly guaranteed places in a restricted range of bachelor courses.
Scots principal Ian Lambert said that the diploma was a good alternative for “middle rank” students ill-suited to the HSC, while a university spokesman said it was “an honest attempt to widen access to the university”.