National trends in Year 12 course completions

Vocational education and training School curriculum Technology Schools Youth Australia

Current Year 12 students form the largest single group of Australian university admissions, comprising approximately half of all admissions at Australian universities.

For those Year 12 students who continue to tertiary study at Australian universities, the courses studied in Year 12 play an important role in preparing them for that further education. Information regarding Year 12 course participation is therefore of serious interest to Australian universities. Unfortunately, reliable, detailed and consistent data in this area are not readily available at the national level. Data that are available based on Year 12 enrolments have recently been shown to have issues with consistency. 1 Furthermore, these data often do not offer detailed information about the levels of difficulty or types of courses within key learning areas. This paper addresses this lack of information by compiling data on Year 12 course completions from all Australian States and Territories into a single, national level data source.
This data source allows an examination of Year 12 completions over the time period 2005 to 2010. Although these are not individual level data, the data can be compared to trends in undergraduate university applications and offers in a general sense, giving some indication as to whether or not changes in Year 12 course completions suggest corresponding changes in preparedness for university courses. It is important to explain here the difference between Year 12 student numbers and Year 12 course completions. The number of students is simply the number of students in Year 12 in a given year. Year 12 course completions is the number of individual courses completed by each of those students.
Each Year 12 student is likely to complete around five courses, therefore the number of course completions each year will be roughly five times the number of Year 12 students. The examination of course completions data is useful because it allows us to see which learning areas are experiencing growth or decline in student participation over time.

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