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Education Systems Shook Up

Tuesday, 10 March, 2015

From 2015, the University of Melbourne will be using the Weighted Average Mark (WAM) to determine student placements for most graduate courses instead of a Grade Point Average (GPA). Additionally, key subject dates will also be given ahead of time following changes to the subject handbook.

The WAM, which is the calculated average sum of all subject grades, will appear on the statement of results, eStudent results page, and Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS). The University has reported that calculating a WAM is a straightforward method of demonstrating a student’s academic record to an employer or third party.

Greater visibility of the WAM has received positive student feedback. Baya Ou Yang, Education Officer for the Media & Communications Student Society, has praised the changes for making students more aware of where they stand academically. “A lot of postgraduate courses will ask for your weighted average, so knowing where you stand and how you need to improve can only help,” she said.

The handbook has copped some flak from students in the past for its lack of easily accessible information. As a result, changes have been made to show key dates for each subject. This includes, but is not limited to, the teaching period, census date and last date to withdraw without failing.

Nellie Montague, Education (Academic Affairs) Officer, believes that the University has taken a step forward in the right direction, but more can be done. “The handbook needs to be the go-to place for subject information for students and at the moment it needs many more updates to ensure it is a useful tool for students,” she said. “The recent addition of key dates is important but detailed course content and timetabling information are also essential.”

The UMSU Education Department will be collecting feedback from students regarding the overall quality of the handbook. The feedback collected will be used to lobby the University into placing a greater awareness on the needs of course information for students.

Both changes come from the Student Lifecycle Project. The Project, according to the provost Margaret Sheil, is “aimed at improving the transparency of information available to students and clarifying entry requirements.”