The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 1-16

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Ready for university? A cross-national study of students’ perceived preparedness for university

  • Ellen P. W. A. JansenAffiliated withUniversity of Groningen Email author 
  • , Jacques van der MeerAffiliated withCollege of Education, The University of Otago


Students’ preparedness for higher education is seen as one of the main factors affecting first-year attrition or study success. In this paper we report on a cross-national study in which students’ preparedness for university was measured before students commenced their study at a university in New Zealand or in the Netherlands. This cross-national project provided a unique opportunity to compare students’ perceptions of readiness for university where students are prepared for higher education in quite different secondary school systems. Departing from a transition framework, and comparing the results in both countries using logistic regression techniques to investigate which aspects of readiness could predict perceived preparedness, we discovered similarities in as well as differences between students’ perceived readiness for university study. It could be argued that differences are caused by the different educational systems at secondary level. However, overall we can conclude that, in spite of differences between the educational systems in the two countries, many differences were not remarkable or very significant. This has clear implications for how we view the relative importance of secondary school preparation and tertiary induction. We can expect greater benefit from implementing first-year pedagogical practices in universities that would assist students to develop their academic skills, than from demanding that high schools prepare students better.


Readiness Transition First-year experience Cross-national comparisons