Australian universities called to become more transparent about ATAR requirements

It can be so confusing.

By Jessica Chandra
Legally Blonde Harvard campus

We all remember being in Year 12, when it seemed like our UAI (now known as an ATAR) was the most important thing in the world. We didn’t believe older and wiser people when they told us no one would care about that number in the future, because it pretty much determined our futures.

And it was confusing as hell. While the point of an ATAR – the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank – makes sense, in that it’s the number that determines which university course students can get into, there’s a lot of other confusing language around university admissions and bonus points and everything else you need to do, or can possibly do, to get into your course of choice.

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That’s about to change. Education Minister Simon Birmingham is announcing plans to clear “the fog and double speak that has clouded higher education admissions processes,” Fairfax reports.

It’s all about transparency, which means a new website will launch in 2018 that allows students to see what different universities around the country require for admission. And it comes off the back of a Fairfax investigation from earlier in the year that found some top NSW universities were admitting students who received ATAR scores that were 40 below the required ATAR to get into particular courses.

As part of the changes, “There will be no more hiding behind fluffy descriptions of entry requirements or inaccessible information on graduate incomes,” Senator Birmingham said. “The Turnbull government’s reforms put the onus on universities and higher education providers to be upfront and honest about what they can offer prospective students.”

This means, ideally, universities will list more than just one cut-off number for entry into their courses, including the lowest ATAR to receive an offer and the maximum number of bonus points available.