GNVQs 'failing science students'

November 8, 1996

Advanced General National Vocational Qualifications fail to prepare some students adequately for science and mathematics-based higher education, according to a new document.

The finding comes from a qualitative investigation conducted by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service into the success of advanced GNVQs in preparing students for higher education courses. More than 160 students who gained places in 1994 or 1995 were interviewed and a sample gave their impressions in the booklet, In Their Own Words.

It was found that students with health and social care or science advanced GNVQs would have preferred more grounding in traditional sciences before entering science-based higher education courses such as medicine or dentistry. Leisure and tourism students who went on to sports science degrees also had difficulty.

The summary notes that although additional GNVQ units are being developed to prepare students better for such courses, they must develop the necessary depth of understanding required.

"Unless they have fully mastered certain scientific and mathematical principles they struggle on some degree courses (particularly where A levels in specific sciences of mathematics are essential entry requirements) within higher education," it reads.

Emma Hinda, 19, who is studying for a bachelor of nursing degree at the University of Wales College Cardiff, was unhappy with the science in her GNVQ. "Even if you had opted for the additional units in science, they were still not scientific enough," she says.

Leisure and tourism and business GNVQ students in particular felt they needed a better understanding of the mathematics relevant to their vocational sector.

But students were very positive about work experience and their verbal communication, group work and information technology skills. Those from families with no tradition of entry to higher education said they increased their self-confidence In Their Own Words. UCAS, Fulton House, Jessop Avenue, Cheltenham GL50 3SH. Tel: 01242 222444. http://www.ucas .ac.uk

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