NMIT will be launching the all new Associate Degree of Tertiary Studies in 2012 and we’re very proud to have Karen Cullen on board as Head of Program – who comes with a wealth of experience in education all the way from Scotland. Here she talks about the degree and offers advice to future students to prepare for the course. She also takes us behind the scenes and gives us some insight into her homeland and what she likes to do in Melbourne.
1) What will students learn throughout the 2 years of the Associate Degree of Tertiary Studies?
The first year of the Associate Degree of Tertiary Studies is a foundation pathway for students seeking to upskill and gain a qualification that will enable them to proceed into Bachelor degree study. Student learning will focus on the core academic skills necessary for study in any Bachelor program including:
- Critical reading
- Academic writing skills and conventions
- How to construct, identify and evaluate an argument
- Academic research methods
- How to give presentations
- Quantitative reasoning
They will also undertake key inter-disciplinary focused subjects from the social science and liberal arts field and have the opportunity to take an elective from one of NMIT’s many Bachelor degree programs.
Students who successfully complete the first year of the program will be eligible to receive a higher education Diploma of Tertiary Studies.
The second year of the Associate Degree of Tertiary Studies builds on the core skills achieved in the first year to enable students to focus further on social science and liberal arts focused discipline based subjects including:
- Environmental Science
Students will also have the opportunity to take two electives from one or two of NMIT’s many Bachelor degree programs.
Successful completion of both years of the program leads to the award of Associate Degree of Tertiary Studies.
2) What facilities does NMIT offer Higher Ed students?
Students on the Diploma and Associate Degree courses will both benefit from small class sizes in which they will have regular contact with, and support from, their lecturers and tutors.
Online resources will be available for students to undertake further study and continue to develop their skills outside of the classroom. Students have full access to all of NMIT’s libraries and can make use of study facilities in any of the campus libraries as well as borrow a laptop PC.
3) What pathways are available for students of your course?
Upon successful completion of the first year of the course (the higher education Diploma of Tertiary Studies) students can gain entry into:
- NMIT’s Education (Early Years) degree courses – NMIT’s Associate Degree Early Years Study, Bachelor of Early Years Study, or the Bachelor of Education (Early Years), subject to interview, with up to 12 credit points of advanced standing.
- NMIT’s Bachelor of Accounting, with up to 24 credit points of advanced standing.
- NMIT’s Bachelor of Business, with up to 36 credit points of advanced standing.
- NMIT’s Bachelor of Information Technology, with up to 36 credit points of advanced standing.
- La Trobe University’s Bachelor of Arts, with up to 60 credit points of advanced standing.
Upon successful completion of the Associate Degree of Tertiary Studies students can gain entry into:
- La Trobe University’s Bachelor of Arts, with up to 120 credit points of advanced standing.
4) What advice would you give students about getting ready for Tertiary Studies? Top 5 tips?
- Be sure that you can commit the necessary time to the course. This might mean rearranging certain aspects of your life. If you want to study full-time, you need to be prepared to give a full-time commitment. You will have approximately 4 hours class time for each of your subjects, but you will need to commit up to an additional 8 hours of your time to each subject.
- Try to start reading a bit more widely than you normally do – read one of the broadsheet newspapers or do some non-fiction reading. Alternatively, contact the Tertiary Studies staff and ask for an early reading list! Critical reading will be an important skill that you will work on during the course, so getting a head start with this will make the first weeks easier.
- Think about what your academic strengths and weakness are. What do you need to focus on the most in this course – are there any areas that you think you will struggle with? If so, speak to the staff about this to get additional support.
- Do some research about what you want to do after the Tertiary Studies course. What are the entry requirements, are there any electives that you could take on the course that will either gain you credit into your next course, or prepare you better for your next level of study?
- If you have any questions or concerns, speak to the staff – we are here to help and advise you. This is the most important tip that I have both for students preparing for the course and those working through the course. If we don’t know what the problem is, we can’t help. Try not to feel shy about asking what you think may be a silly question – chances are some of your fellow students also want an answer to the same question!
5) Where in Scotland are you from? How did you end up in Australia – or NMIT more to the point?
I come from a small town in Angus called Monifieth. This is close to Dundee on the east coast of Scotland, about an hour’s drive north of the capital, Edinburgh. I worked at the University of Dundee after I finished my PhD and subsequently moved to the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). UHI is a rural based university spread across the north and west of Scotland serving a small and dispersed population. In the six years before I moved to Melbourne, I worked at a small campus in Dornoch, about an hour north of Inverness, but travelled regularly to campuses across the region including Skye, Orkney and Lewis. Dornoch is a very small Highland town – its main claims to fame are a world famous golf course, a lovely beach and one of Madonna’s children was christened at Dornoch Cathedral!
I migrated to Australia last year with my husband who had a job opportunity in Melbourne. I then started working for NMIT in November to coordinate the new Tertiary Studies course.
6) What do you like about Melbourne? How does the weather compare to Scotland?
Melbourne couldn’t be more different from Dornoch, but I really love living here. It is a beautiful city with great public transport networks and a great variety of restaurants, bars and cafes. The Botanical Gardens are my favourite place in the city.
The weather is much, much warmer than in Scotland. Last winter in Scotland I experienced some daytime temperatures of -15 degrees Celsius dipping down to -25 overnight! I am really enjoying the sunny weather and experienced my first day when the temperature got to 40 degrees. However, I thought that the storm on Christmas Day that brought hail the size of ping pong balls was very strange, especially since the temperature was in the 20s!
More Information on the course: Associate Degree of Tertiary Studies