CANBERRA, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) has announced a plan to prevent poor-performing student from becoming teachers.
Tanya Plibersek, deputy leader of the ALP and the party's education spokesperson, promised that, if elected at the general election in May, the ALP would restrict entry to education courses to the top 30 percent of students.
Australian universities have come under fire for letting some students with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) lower than 30 into teaching courses.
The ATAR, which is the primary criterion for entry into Australian universities, is a percentile score given to students at the end of their final year of secondary school. Scores range from the lowest "less than 30" to 99.95.
"Labor wants the best and brightest Australians studying teaching," Plibersek told reporters on Sunday evening.
"If universities don't do the right thing and fix this themselves, a Labor government will make them."
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in September 2018 revealed that half the places offered in education degrees in New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in 2015 were offered to students ranked in the bottom 50 percent.
"We want young Australians with a track record of achievement, motivation and capability to teach the next generation," Plibersek said.
"We want a career in teaching to be a first choice, not a fall-back."
She said that unless universities lifted entry requirements for education degrees, an ALP government would cap the number of places in teaching degrees.
However, the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE), which represents the 39 Australian universities offering education degrees, has rejected the plan.
"A threat to mandate a cap on ATARs of 80 may sound like a quick fix, but in reality, fewer than one-in-four students are chosen on the basis of their ATAR alone," Tania Aspland, president of the ACDE, told Fairfax Media.
"There is no evidence to show that those with higher ATARs become better teachers.
"We need to look at their intellectual capability, their non-academic attributes such as their capacity to communicate. There is no point being brilliant if you can't communicate with young people, and then other qualities like resilience, motivation."