How good are the students who go to university via a TAFE

Angela O’Brien-Malone and I have just had a paper (DOI: 10.1080/02188791.2018.1423953)

published by the Asia Pacific Journal of Education in which we compare the performance of students who go to Monash University directly from Year 12 with the performance of students who enter Monash University via a college of technical and further education, commonly known in Australia as a “TAFE”. The basis of the paper is our further analysis of data originally reported by Willis and Joschko (2012).

We used quantile regression with restricted cubic splines to examine the relationship between students’ Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), their pathway of entry to university, and their performance during first-year university. The short story from a rather long paper is that we found outstanding performance to be largely confined to students entering Monash University directly from Year 12, rather than from  a TAFE. However, we also found that for any given ATAR, TAFE-entry students were more likely to pass their first year of university than were students entering directly from Year 12. To put that statement in its more striking present-tense reverse-form, students coming to university directly from Year 12 have a greater chance of failing first-year than do TAFE-entry student entering (Monash) university from a TAFE.

Having said that, it is worth bearing in mind that the TAFE-entry students are a very special, essentially self-selected bunch. For more details, have a look at the paper!