Griffith University: Griffith’s new safety net catches talented students

One of Griffith University’s newest students says without the lifeline it provided, her International Baccalaureate (IB) achievements would have counted for nothing.

Australian born Dubai based high school student Lucy Watson was turned away from several Australian institutions earlier this year, advised her IB results as a Course Candidate student were not recognised and unable to be converted to any useful metric that would allow her to begin tertiary studies.

“Everything kind of felt like it was falling apart, because everything that I’d worked for (at school), for the past two years, suddenly didn’t exist anymore,” she said.

“There was never any sort of sign that there was going to be an issue with my grades.”


Lucy Watson with her brother Jonah in Dubai
She was looking to return to her birthplace after 14 years living in Dubai with family. A partial completion of her IB Diploma was rejected by at least four NSW based universities.

“It was a massive shock to everyone in my family, because we had planned my return to Australia and we were just waiting for the acceptance.”

Griffith University is one of the only Australian universities to recognise the efforts of IB students who, for a range of reasons, have performed highly across core subjects but did not receive a full Diploma or are classified as Course Candidate students.

Keen to follow her heart and study drama and literature, Lucy has now been offered a place in a Bachelor of Arts at Griffith, based on the number of core subjects she completed towards the IB, which is known internationally for its unique academic rigour and emphasis on students’ personal development.

“Ironically, Griffith was the first university that my mum actually suggested to me, but we were looking at somewhere in Sydney, because then I could be closer to the family.

“Thankfully, as a Course Candidate student, I got just the amount of points that I needed to automatically get in to Griffith.”

“I had to speak to a few people, I had a zoom meeting but once they heard about my issues, I was accepted and it’s honestly so easy and really comforting after the absolute mess that happened in regards to my grades with the other universities.”


Professor Liz Burd
Griffith University Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education), Professor Liz Burd, said their new Guaranteed Admission Scheme provided more opportunities for students from a range of backgrounds.

It has expanded guaranteed admission for ATAR 90+ or IB Score 33 students to include those who have an ATAR 80+ or IB Score 28 and a completed VET qualification.

“Griffith University recognises that some IB students will experience circumstances that prevent them from being awarded the full Diploma,” Professor Burd said.

“We strongly encourage all tertiary-bound IB students to focus on completing the Diploma to obtain a tertiary selection rank but if for some reason they are unable to, students can apply to QTAC for a place at Griffith and will be assessed on the study that has been completed towards the Diploma.

“You don’t need to apply separately for the Safety Net, as you will automatically be considered when you apply to QTAC. Any eligible adjustments will also be applied to your rank.”

Cleveland District State High School Deputy Principal and IB Schools Australasia Association Standing Committee member Karen Abraham said Lucy Watson’s story was unfortunately all too common and she hopes other universities follow Griffith’s lead.

“Fortunately for these talented students Griffith takes the time to consider the whole picture of a student’s school life, not just casting them aside because they may not have finished all of the requirements for the complete IB Diploma,” she said.

“The IB is a prestigious program preparing students globally for not only University entrance but also success in tertiary studies.

“IB graduates are critical thinkers with a true social conscience and global perspective who are fluent in two languages.

“In recent years, the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) has flourished in Queensland schools and many talented students now study this program. It isn’t just overseas institutions who offer it.

“In Queensland alone we have 12 schools (independent and government) who deliver the IBDP. Between them we have approximately 500 Year 12 students preparing to graduate, with a similar number coming through in the 2022 graduating class.”

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