6 August 2004 Award Ceremony Recognises Lincoln's Pioneering Foundation Studies Programme
A pioneering New Zealand educational enterprise – the Foundation Studies programme at Lincoln University – has celebrated its fourth birthday this year and is holding its first ever formal award ceremony on 11 August.
Because the Certificate in Foundation Studies is a pre-university qualification, successful students have not been able to participate in Lincoln's traditional capping ceremonies and until now they have simply received their certificates in the post or by hand.
"The huge success of Foundation Studies at Lincoln University and the outstanding effort put in by the students over the past four years has, however, made us realise that the programme deserves its own ceremony of recognition and we're holding the first one on the 11 August," says Foundation Studies Director Derek Chapman.
Over 1000 students have enrolled in Foundation Studies at Lincoln since its inception in 2000 and most have been notified about the award ceremony and invited to attend to receive their certificates formally from the University's Chancellor Margaret Austin.
Foundation Studies is a university entrance qualification designed and developed by Lincoln University to prepare candidates for tertiary studies. It is a one year fulltime course and is recognised as an entrance qualification for all New Zealand universities. Students complete the eight-paper certificate over two semesters taking a core of compulsory subjects – Computing, English Language and Communication, Mathematics, Learning and Study Issues, Statistics, and Integrative Studies – and choosing two electives from a choice of Accounting, Economics, Science and Environmental Studies.
Lincoln's was the first Foundation Studies programme designed in New Zealand expressly for New Zealand conditions. Other universities and a number of private providers have since followed suit with their own programmes and two Australian universities also offer their Foundation Studies packages in New Zealand.
Fourteen cohorts of aspiring university students have moved through Foundation Studies at Lincoln in the past four years and the University currently has over 500 students enrolled in fulltime courses from among those who have completed the certificate. Other certificate holders are studying at universities elsewhere throughout New Zealand and overseas.
The first certificate holder from the first intake in 2000 to complete a degree at Lincoln University graduated in April this year. Taku Tokuriki of Japan was capped Bachelor of Resource Management. Another member of the first intake also graduated this year – overseas. Korean Cho Hung Gi was capped Bachelor of Computer Information Systems at Columbus State University, Georgia, USA. Three certificate holders from the second intake of 2000, also graduated in April from Lincoln.
Overall the first Lincoln University Foundation Studies student to graduate with a university degree was Jeremy Ng of Singapore who successfully completed a Bachelor of Commerce at Canterbury University in 2003.
The Lincoln University programme was designed particularly for international students and there were eight different countries represented in the first intake. Since then representation has grown to about a dozen different countries covering Asia, Africa, the Americas, the United Kingdom and Europe, and the Pacific.
"Among Chinese students it has been the most successful channel for those wanting to go to university in New Zealand," says Mr Chapman. "It has proved a far more reliable pathway for them than the Bursary examinations.
"The programme is characterised by the calibre of the students who enrol, the ability to deliver the teaching to small classes and the University's ability to attract talented and highly skilled tutors from the secondary school system.
"This has enabled us to provide an excellent learning environment.
"In fact we've gone four years without one bad moment in the classroom," he says, "although, as might have been expected, we've had to help dozens of students with a multitude of personal problems.
"The main validation of the programme is, of course, the excellent results achieved by the certificate holders when they go on to university study," says Mr Chapman.
"Analyses at both Lincoln and Canterbury universities show that Foundation Studies students have achieved better results than most other first year international students.
"There is a very high pass rate in the first year of degree studies among Foundation Studies students and many achieve straight A's.
"One of our Foundation Studies students from last year passed five papers all with A+ results, in her first semester of degree study this year. That's an exceptional result considering that the normal workload for a semester is four papers."
Mr Chapman says a fundamental point about Lincoln University's Foundation Studies programme is that it was set up as a "bridging" programme rather than a "knowledge acquisition" programme.
"In other words we provide a bridge to help candidates successfully make the transition from their previous study to tertiary study at Lincoln University.
"Most other Foundation Studies programmes concentrate on the acquisition of knowledge but we have really concentrated on the acquisition of skills, not the least of which is the important skill of problem solving.
"The authors of the Lincoln programme set out to design a programme that was integrated in nature and skills based."
Those authors included Neil Fleming, a Director of Lincoln University's Education and Learning Services Centre, Student Learning Tutors Catriona Cameron and Jeanette Allison, Senior Lecturers Peter Cosgriff, and Lyn Holland of the Economics and Marketing Department, and secondary school teachers Dale James and Raewyn Saunders.
The concept was the brainchild of Lincoln University's International Director Geoff Ormandy who first put forward the idea in 1994 after being involved in a similar development at another institution. The concept was brought to life by a project team comprising Geoff, Lily Belabun as the Project manager, John Goodrich, the University's Academic Services Manager, and Professor Tony Zwart, now Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Business Development).
Former Linwood High School Principal Derek Chapman was recruited to be Director.
The enterprise started with three staff members and it now has nearly 20, some of whom are also part of the associated English Language School that was established in January 2002 as an off-shoot of the Foundation Studies operation.
"Early on I identified that one way of guaranteeing a cohort of students coming into Foundation Studies was to run our own English Language Centre," says Mr Chapman.
"Like Foundation Studies this enterprise has been highly successful and there has been almost a 100 percent conversion from it into other Lincoln University programmes.
"We offer the standard English language programme leading to the IELTS test plus the EAP (English for Academic Purposes) programme as an alternative to IELTS. EAP has been a revelation, it has changed the face of our school. Now the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee's Committee on University Academic Programmes has just approved a Lincoln University Certificate in Academic English.
"That means we are able to offer a whole package from English Language Studies through Foundation Studies into full degree programmes and on to postgraduate study. It's a package very consistent with what international education agents are seeking for their clients, so it's really a good example of Lincoln University responsiveness to market developments."
Positive acceptance of the Foundation Studies programme by the Lincoln University campus community in general was particularly satisfying, said Mr Chapman.
"It is accepted by the academic staff that those who have qualified for the Certificate in Foundation Studies are ready and able to work at a tertiary level both here and in other universities. The results achieved by certificate holders have validated the programme and proven its worth."
Ian Collins, Journalist, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand