From Country to Cities

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  • October 13, 2023
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Rural Students’ University Entrance Struggles

A recent study done by the University of Auckland reveals that rural students face significant challenges in achieving NCEA Level three and University Entrance when compared to their urban peers. These findings highlight a critical educational disparity and have sparked concerns about rural students’ access to competitive university programs.

The study’s standout discovery indicates that students in rural schools are approximately 15 percent less likely to attain University Entrance between 2012 and 2021. While the gap in achieving NCEA Level three is slightly smaller, it remains a matter of concern. These disparities have raised questions about the rural students’ ability to enter highly competitive university courses. The study’s lead author, Dr Kyle Eggleton, says this is an issue for students who want to get into courses in high demand,

“Lower educational achievement in rural schools may impact entry into highly competitive medical programmes and disadvantage rural students.”

One significant factor contributing to these disparities is the higher proportion of Māori students in rural schools, combined with lower decile ratings, known to impact student outcomes. The study highlights inequalities in educational achievement between Māori and non-Māori students across different schools and socioeconomic levels.

“Our study findings highlight the disparities in educational achievement between Māori and non-Māori across all school types and socio-economic levels. Furthermore, University Entrance attainment decreased as the proportion of Māori students in a school increased.”

Various factors potentially contribute to these differences. Urban schools often have more resources, private schools, and single-sex schools, which can lead to improved student outcomes. Rural areas may struggle to attract specialised teachers, making it challenging to offer the same level of education.

It’s crucial to understand that NCEA Level three and University Entrance are not the sole measures of student success. Smaller rural schools can provide personalised education, enabling staff to work closely with students to help them achieve their unique goals. Many rural students opt for vocational standards, reflecting the practical, career-focused nature of their education.

“If students can make a really good living in the rural workforce, who would deny them that? That absolutely is going to impact on the Level three data because a lot of 17 and 18-year-old students are going to transition into that before their external exams.” Dr Kyle Eggelton says.

The information in this blog post was sourced and rewritten from an article on the NZHerald website.