Barriers to successful transitions from VET to HE - a case study of student pathways in early childhood education and care

Louise Watson

    Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


    The expectation of a “seamless” pathway through education and training, particularly between vocational and higher education, places demands on learning institutions in both sectors. This paper examines the cross-sectoral learning pathways available to people employed in early childhood education and care (ECEC), which encompasses childcare, pre-school education and the early years of schooling. While there is a recognised pathway between the VET Diploma of Children’s Services to a university degree in early childhood or primary school teaching, students who are making the transition face a range of obstacles. Sectoral differences in approaches to learning and teaching, course delivery and curriculum and assessment means that many VET Diploma students are not adequately prepared to undertake studies in higher education. Lack of understanding of the VET system by teaching staff in universities compounds the difficulties VET graduates face in making the transition. Although credit transfer and articulation arrangements assist VET Diploma graduates to obtain admission to some universities, many students find the transition difficult due to sectoral differences in teaching and learning, and the failure of teaching staff in both sectors to recognise and accommodate them. These obstacles may contribute to the rate of attrition among VET Childcare Diploma graduates enrolled in early childhood education courses at Australian universities. This paper argues that successful cross-sectoral transitions depend heavily on the level of understanding by teaching staff (in both sectors) of the differences between VET and HE and their willingness to cater for these differences in their programs. Institutions therefore need to look beyond credit transfer and articulation agreements if they are to facilitate successful student transitions between the sectors. Teaching staff in both sectors should be assisted to understand the differences between VET and HE and to accommodate the specific learning needs of students from another sector. Policy makers should also consider the costs of perpetuating unnecessary divisions between VET and HE and should investigate measures to reduce the differences between the sectors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPapers of the Ninth National Conference of the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA) : Global VET : Challenges at the Global, National and Local Levels
    EditorsMilan Matic
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    EventNinth Australian VET Research Association Conference - Wollongong, Australia
    Duration: 19 Apr 200621 Apr 2006


    ConferenceNinth Australian VET Research Association Conference


    Dive into the research topics of 'Barriers to successful transitions from VET to HE - a case study of student pathways in early childhood education and care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this