University “hits” paved the way for simpler rules on entry to Junior College

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The decision to ease Junior College entry requirements comes after a promising number of university students admitted on probation during the pandemic were able to pass their exams, university rector Alfred Vella said. Malta weather.

The college has changed its rules so that passes in all three core subjects – maths, English and Maltese – and one science subject are no longer required for entry. Instead, students will only need six SEC passes, including only one in a core subject.

The rules were published in a legal notice on March 8, but only prompted meaningful comment after blogger Manuel Delia spoke about them earlier this week.

The Malta Teachers’ Union has called for the new rules to be suspended citing lack of consultation.

Yesterday the rector said emphatically that this was not about lowering standards but about giving a boost to students who had failed on their first try.

Asked if the decision was supported by data, Vella said that while no specific data exists on Junior College students, the decision was made after similarly relaxed conditions at the University of Malta have proven successful for students who have found it difficult to take exams during the pandemic.

“None of these studies are really possible because what we are experiencing are students choosing not to apply to Junior College in the first place,” he said.

“What may have gone unnoticed is that university entrance requirements were similarly changed during the pandemic and approximately 75% of students admitted on probation were able to meet the requirements and go to second year.”

In 2020, the university dropped a number of admission requirements, requiring only a minimum of 36 points in matriculation exams to receive provisional admission. Students had to pass all their modules to progress, otherwise they were removed from the course.

No lowering Standards

“We realized that because of the pandemic, there were students who would have done better in other circumstances. As they progress in their studies, the students are followed closely and the same will be the case for the students of the Junior College.

Against criticism, Vella said it was “absolutely not the case” for standards to be lowered.

“We seek to help students who need a little help,” he insisted.

Academic and sociologist Michael Briguglio backs the measure, saying students should always have more opportunities to progress.

“We have to accept the reality that not all children and students have faced the pandemic in the same way, some have adapted quickly while others have not,” he said. .

I disagree that the path to education should be streamlined for everyone because everyone is not the same– Academic Michael Briguglio

“What I notice, for example, is that even at the university level, we have had an unprecedented number of students asking for extensions of their deadlines.

Fundamentally, he said, education policy should seek to be like a trampoline, pushing people up and not out of the system.

“There are a lot of students who take time to find themselves and grow academically.

“I don’t agree that the path to education should be streamlined for everyone, because not everyone is the same,” he continued.

“Even the university itself is not as rigorous in terms of the requirements. Mature students, for example, are often admitted on the understanding that they are predisposed to learn.

“I absolutely do not see this as a lowering of standards, but as a second chance and not as closing the door to future students. They are given more time to blossom and slower does not mean worse.

Not prepared for paradigm shift

However, beyond inclusion policies, a college that is unprepared to meet the needs of students with different requirements will end up bypassing them, said the former dean of the Faculty of Education, Carmel Borg.

“We must recognize that every educational institution has a mission and character and JC was born specifically to lead students to college,” he said.

“The entire pedagogy, culture, attitude of the college is specifically linked to this vocation.

Placing students in institutions that don’t have the right educational background and culture for them is like trying to insert a square peg into a round hole– Former Dean of the Carmel Borg Faculty of Education

“Now, without knowing it, professors have found themselves in a situation where they have to deal with students who do not necessarily have the skills necessary to succeed and progress in this environment.

“While before they might assume their students had basic literacy and numeracy skills, if things don’t change, that can no longer be taken for granted.”

Students looking for a second chance could find themselves in a counterproductive situation when basically neither the college nor its staff are prepared to meet their needs.

“There are already several public institutions that meet the required environment to give students a second chance,” Borg said.

“Putting students into institutions that don’t have the right educational background and culture for them is like trying to insert a square peg into a round hole and I think that will eventually change them.”

Borg said another aspect that “backfired considerably” was the fact that many speakers learned about the measure through the media.

“There has been no conversation and many feel they are being asked to undertake a radical paradigm shift unprepared.

“No one is against inclusion, but a clash of expectations and aspirations will put students in a position where they must either sink or swim.”

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