Nurses to thank for enrolment gain


Cooranbong, New South Wales

The most popular undergraduate course and most postgraduate courses continue to grow as enrolment at Avondale College of Higher Education rebounds from a downturn.

[The enrolment increase is] a pleasing result, particularly given the present turmoil and uncertainty in the Australian higher education environment.

Enrolment for semester one this year is 1436. This equates to 503.716 when measured as equivalent full-time student load (EFTSL), an increase of 10.595 over this past year but still down from semester one EFTSL over the three previous years. EFTSL relates directly to income.

The increase is due, in part, to continued growth in the Bachelor of Nursing—the course is up almost 25 EFTSL from its record in semester one this past year. Associate Professor Paul Race describes the increase as part of a “groundswell of interest” in nursing. “It’s a rewarding career and, with a shortage of nurses tipped in the future, there are reasonable opportunities for employment,” says the dean of the Faculty of Arts, Nursing and Theology. Avondale’s Christian worldview may also be a factor—students equate nursing with mission service, which is an integral part of the Avondale experience, says Paul.

A successful application to the federal government for an adjustment in its allocation saw all Avondale nursing and education students who met eligibility criteria receive a Commonwealth supported place. This also helped increase enrolment, says registrar Dr Gwen Wilkinson, “especially when we’re competing with universities that have uncapped places.”

Enrolment in most of Avondale’s postgraduate courses—notably its Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Teaching (Primary) and Master of Nursing—increased, albeit slightly and off a small base. “It indicates we’re gaining recognition as a quality provider of postgraduate courses and that we’re meeting the needs of a growing market,” says Dr Wilkinson.

While education—with 538 students—is the most popular study discipline at Avondale, the Bachelor of Nursing is still the most popular course, enrolling 386 students this semester.

The enrolment increase is “a pleasing result,” says president Professor Ray Roennfeldt, “particularly given the present turmoil and uncertainty in the Australian higher education environment.”