BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 435

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 435

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Tertiary Comparison Guide

After purchasing a house and a car, the next major life expenditure is almost certainly the cost of tertiary education. The question is, are prospective university students getting value for money? Paying up to $25,000 for a university education, they need reliable information in order to compare institutions and courses.

There are now two official guides comparing universities, but not courses. As a result, academic controversy has arisen over their adequacy, and because of concerns about comparability and accuracy of data. When comparing universities, one should be aware of what exactly is being measured, and whether the information is useful. Professor Brian Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney, says, “There is as much variation within one university as between universities; no university has all the best activities, and no university is without its strengths”.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

It makes little sense for prospective students to choose to go to a university simply because it has an excellent reputation. It is wiser to look first at the overall characteristics and reputation of a university, and then at the faculty or discipline desired. To do this one must have access to quality data for each discipline.

Let us look at three ways we can now rank universities. A government-appointed Quality Review Committee made the first ranking of universities in 1993. It divided the 35 universities in Australia into six quality bands based mainly on research and teaching outcomes. In the top band, only two universities were represented: one from NSW (the University of NSW) and the other from the ACT (the Australian National University).

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Sydney and Wollongong universities were both in the second ranking. Wollongong was the only newer university to make such a high grade. Macquarie and the University of Technology, Sydney, were in band four; Charles Sturt, Canberra, New England, and Newcastle were in band five. In band six were the Australian Catholic University and the University of Western Sydney.

This ranking has drawn much criticism, since it was based on what universities spent on research, and not on the quality of teaching. However, it should be stated that this was the first year of a continuing quality review. Next, the Quality Review Committee will assess the teaching record of universities.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

The Department of Education Employment and Training (DEET) has published 50 indicators of diversity and performance of Australian universities. This lists comparative data on everything from academic staff ratio and percentage of staff with PhDs, to expenditure on library grants. The document says it does not rank universities, and is designed to assist students to make informed comparisons. But the universities can be ranked by each measure using a key indicator of success – positive graduate outcomes – which combines the percentage of recent graduates in full-time work and/or full-time study.

Here, the University of Technology, Sydney, emerges as the leader in NSW, with 83.2% of its graduates in work and/or study, just behind the ANU with 83.5%. Sydney has 79.8%, Charles Sturt 75.5%, Wollongong 74.1%, Macquarie 73.2%, UNSW 73.1%, Newcastle 72.5%, New England/Southern Cross 72%, and Western Sydney 69.7%.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Professor Gannicort, a Professor of Education at Wollongong University, has developed his own “performance table”, ranking Australian universities using some of the DEET data – including the number of government research grants and grants from industry, as well as the number of recent graduates in full-time work or study. This time the University of Queensland tops the league. Sydney is third, UNSW fifth, ANU sixth, Macquarie 10th, Newcastle 15th, and all the other NSW universities well down in the rankings. He says this shows that the key factors which determine better university performance are what has always been supposed: that is, high quality students, numerous well-qualified staff, and nonproliferation of courses.

Interestingly, Ms. Barbara Bell, the National Recruitment Manager for the Institute of Chartered Accountants, claims employers are not so much interested in the university as in the skills and all-round quality of graduates. Those graduates who lack communication skills, for example, are at a big disadvantage. Ms. Bell quotes a recent survey that found a quarter of employers of graduates chose not to rank universities “because they said there was no correlation between the university and performance”.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Dr. Michael Dack, Public Affairs Director of the Institution of Engineers, has commented that the prestige of a university does not count. The smaller universities are tailoring courses and products to the marketplace better than the large universities. They are trying harder to produce graduates who are acceptable to industry and employers. Traditional universities are often more academic and less industry-linked. He argues strongly the case for more broadly educated graduates. For example, the trend in engineering was to produce graduates with a broader education, communication and financial skills, and knowledge of the environmental and political context. Engineers with other skills were able to weather times of economic recession much better.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Refer to the Reading Passage “Tertiary Comparison Guide”, and look at the statements below. 

Write your answers in boxes 14- 21 on your Answer Sheet.


A – if the statement is Accurate

I – if the statement is Inaccurate

N – if the information is Not Given in the text

14. Prospective students should consider the reputation of the university before choosing the faculty.

15. The university ranking system by the Quality Review Committee was well-received by students.

16. The Quality Review Committee’s basis for determining the ranking was the quality of tuition.

17. The Committee will next review the amount universities spend on research.

18. The DEET study was conducted to assist students to compare information about universities.

19. More than a third of the universities in the DEET study have 75% or more of their recent graduates in work and/or study.

20. According to employers, the ranking of universities does not assist in the determination of performance.

21. In order to compare disciplines or faculties, students need access to quality data.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Complete the sentences below with words or phrases from Reading Passage “Tertiary Comparison Guide”. Note that each answer requires a MAXIMUM OF THREE WORDS.

22. University courses were not compared, which was one reason why the two official comparison guides caused __________.

23. The government-appointed Quality Review Committee ranked Australia’s universities within __________.

24. In order to rank universities, some of the DEET data was used by Professor Gannicort to produce a __________.

25. The ANU scored highest when positive __________ were used as the key indicators of success.

26. Employers are unlikely to employ graduates who ___________.

IELTS Academic Reading Test


BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 435

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IELTS Academic Reading Test

14. A

15. I

16. I

17. A

18. A

19. A

20. A

21. A






IELTS Academic Reading Test

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