Abstract: Context: In an increasingly interconnected and rapidly changing world, the role of a vibrant, creative and diverse engineering workforce is critical. To contribute to technological advancements, engage in global collaboration, solve complex problems, encourage a more social and leadership skill, it is necessary for future engineers to be more diverse in their racial, gender, and socioeconomic (SES) representation. Many Australian universities followed the recent government objectives aimed to increase participation in Higher Education (HE) and created courses and programmes providing alternative pathways to HE for students from non-traditional and low SES backgrounds. However, students undertaking university pathway programs, such as low Socio Economic Background (SES) students, first in family, remote and mature students often have considerable commitments that are not directly related to the study, such as job and/or career responsibilities which significantly affect their ability to progress in the course.
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the example of Western Sydney University's The College, specifically the experiences of non-traditional students from the university pathway program studying engineering and what factors have the most influence on their workload and study success.
Approach: The project methodology includes a literature review, analysis of engineering pathway programs at the College and how the program parameters and student support services influence on student's success. The quantitative data of the parameters affecting student's workload and the factors affecting student's success in the pathway programs are collected across three engineering pathway programs.
Results: The students from the university pathway programs, such as the Diploma and Extended Diploma in Engineering are required to spend significant amounts of time which is not directly linked to their study, such as part time job, care responsibilities and travel time. The mature-age students from Associate Degree in Engineering have a full time job and still spend significant amount of time for study. Also Associate Degree students have less care responsibilities and spend more time for social activities.
The student's success in the university pathway programs is found to be influenced by key factors, such as quality and clarity of curriculum materials, teacher characteristics, sufficient amount of face-toface hours and study flexibility.
Conclusions: The journey for non-traditional students in the university pathway program isn't always easy and overwhelmed with the large number of personal commitments that are not directly associated with the study. However even being in the group of considerable financial disadvantage and low socioeconomic status, the students found to be motivated, talented and willing to succeed in the course which evidenced by their successful progression towards university degree. It was found that a wellstructured program coupled with effective student support, non-traditional students can experience high levels of success in various engineering pathway programs and can bring significant contribution to the national engineering workforce.
To cite this article: Belkina, Marina. Access to success: The study of student's workload in the university pathway programs [online]. In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 70-78.
[cited 23 Jun 17].