Plan your study around your life, not the other way around: How are semi-engaged students coping with flexible access?
Edith Cowan University
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre
Higher education ad campaigns that promote flexibility of study arrangements are gaining momentum in Australia and elsewhere. Edith Cowan University (ECU) acknowledged the competition between prospective students’ study time, paid work and/or family commitments with its slogan “Plan your study around your life, not the other way round”. ECU’s promotion of ‘flexibility’ is understandable in the current competitive and market-driven economic climate. However, what are the consequences of universities becoming so reactive and responsive to the demands of ‘paying customers’ and market pressures? What is the price of flexible access? This paper will analyse the rates of academic success of a sample of first-year teacher education students and their patterns of engagement. Although tentative at this point, the results of this preliminary study show that while ‘flexible access’ is desired by many, some students are not attending lectures and are not taking advantage of audio recording provisions. Thus, it is inferred that some first year students are not coping with flexible access provision. Following this line of analysis and discussion the conclusion is made that universities have an ethical obligation to assist students improve their engagement levels, especially in first year.