Nursing still tops despite downturn

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Cooranbong, New South Wales

The most popular course at Avondale continues to grow despite a decrease in enrolment at the college of higher education.

The majority of the university sector has taken a hit as well—in many cases sharper than Avondale’s. But the fact remains that we have to work through this situation.

Enrolment for semester one this year is 1308. This equates to 494.371 when measured as equivalent full-time student load (EFTSL), a decrease of 20.496 over the previous record. EFTSL relates directly to income.

It appears Avondale is not the only higher education provider dealing with the financial cost of lower enrolment. “The majority of the university sector has taken a hit as well—in many cases sharper than Avondale’s,” says president Professor Ray Roennfeldt. “But the fact remains that we have to work through this situation.” Ray sees the challenge as “an opportunity to position the college to meet the demands of the future.”

There have been EFTSL decreases in arts, business, education, science and mathematics and theology. A record number of graduates this past year and the timing of accreditation and reaccreditation of courses offered in semester one this year may have been contributing factors, notes academic registrar Dr Gwen Wilkinson.

The less than expected enrolment is perplexing because Avondale made a record number of course offers—455 as of the end of February, an increase of almost 2.5 per cent on the same period in 2013. Director of advancement Colin Crabtree describes this figure as “encouraging,” particularly as universities are offering an uncapped number of Commonwealth supported places. “[It’s] a testament to the dedication of all Avondale staff involved in our student recruitment.”

The Bachelor of Nursing is still the course that enrols most students—337—at Avondale. Three postgraduate courses—the Graduate Diploma of Ministry and Theology, the Master of Nursing and the Doctor of Philosophy—recorded notable EFSTL increases.