Drop in offers no ‘dark outcome’

First round offers at Federation University Gippsland are 35 per cent down from last year, but the university is buoyed by a spike in direct applications.

Across the state offers through the Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre decreased by 2.2 per cent, with many non-recent school leavers or mature age students applying directly to their university of choice.

The Age reported Federation University had the biggest decline out of any Victorian institution at 29 per cent across its three campuses, with Deakin University observing a seven per cent drop and Swinburne holding steady on last year.

FedUni Gippsland Head of Campus Harry Ballis said while there had been a drop in VTAC applications, direct offers counterweighted the numbers.

“It’s not a dark outcome, there will be more bodies here in 2015 than last year. It doesn’t matter which door they come through,” Dr Ballis said.

FedUni Vice-Chancellor David Battersby said the Churchill campus had already received in excess of 200 direct applications, versus 60 or 70 at this time last year.

Overall the university processed 1107 direct applications, compared to 546 applications last year – a 97 per cent increase.

Professor Battersby said most direct applications came from non-recent school leavers or mature age students, while school leavers largely applied through the VTAC system.

He said there was no single reason for the decline in VTAC first round offers, but believed school leavers were shaken by the threat of the proposed Federal Government reforms.

“Discussion about university costing more has impacted (applying) adversely, that’s the feedback we’re receiving. Students have started to rule it out as an option,” Dr Battersby.

“We know in the regions there are financial pressures of going to university and people are talking about the rising costs of universities.”

Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert has ordered a report into why the number of offers to regional students has fallen by 10 per cent.

Mr Herbert said the big regional drop was a “worrying trend” outside the VTAC offices in Melbourne on Monday.

“We want to make sure that no matter where you are in Victoria you have the opportunities to go on and do further study,” he said.