Students with dismally poor high school results are being accepted into university teaching courses, setting off alarm bells about the quality of some Australian educators.
Figures released to a Senate inquiry show one student was accepted to a teaching course at a Victorian uni in 2018 with a score of 17.9 out of a possible 99.95, while the lowest score accepted at another institution was 22.1.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham says Australians rightly expect that school students are taught by the best and while scores are not everything, the data is alarming.
"To get the best outcomes for students we need the highest calibre teachers in the classroom," he said in a statement on Sunday.
Victorian institutions accepted the two lowest entry scores, despite the state government having introduced a minimum score for teaching courses of 65 in 2018, with plans to boost the benchmark to 70 in 2019.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino has ordered an urgent investigation of all university entry data to ensure the standards are adhered to.
"I will not stand for universities who are attempting to undercut or bypass our reforms and minimum ATAR standards," Mr Merlino said in a statement.
Under the Victorian requirements, universities that do not comply may put their accreditation to offer teaching courses in jeopardy.
Senator Birmingham has written to Mr Merlino to ask how the policy is working in practice.
Such minimums can only be made by state governments, the senator said, though the federal government introduced a literacy and numeracy test to ensure teaching graduates have skills in the top 30 per cent.
It is also making changes to improve the transparency of university admission information, including launching a new platform where details such as score thresholds will be published.