AUSTRALIA: Poor students top at elite universities

Students from poor backgrounds are less likely to attend Australia's prestige universities, but those who do are likelier to finish their degrees, according to a new report by the Group of Eight leading research institutions, writes Luke Slattery for The Australian. The report will inform a Go8 equity strategy that is being hammered out in response to the government's call for a boost in the proportion of undergraduates from low socio-economic backgrounds to 20% by 2020.

The report found 72.4% of applicants to Go8 universities achieved an equivalent national tertiary entrance rank score of more than 80.05 last year, and of these only 10.4% were from low socio-economic backgrounds. But the imbalance was corrected to some extent by better retention and academic success rates for students from these backgrounds.

"Retention rates were higher in Go8 universities than any other universities across all equity groups in the five-year period from 2002 to 2006," the report says, adding that the dropout rate for low-socio economic status students, likewise, is lower within the Go8 than outside it. The report comes after the federal government released its own attrition figures for 2001-07, which revealed a national dropout rate of 18.9% for undergraduates.
Full report on The Australian site