ATAR and University Entrance for the Future

ATARs are irrelevant, vice-chancellors say

After reading many headlines and stories about the ATAR in the newspapers lately, I am sure that students and parents are quite confused about the relevance of the ATAR for the future.

Society and universities are questioning the university entry criteria and will evaluate it in good time. Some have questioned it a long time ago and therefore, have already implemented a few alternative methods for entrance.

For those who will be sitting the HSC this year and perhaps in the next few years, I envisage little or no change. The ATAR will remain as the number one criteria for assessing one’s suitability for a university course. However, what we may see are perhaps some add-ons to this criteria. This is where students need to be savvy about the universities and the courses they choose, bonus point options available, alternative entry requirements and their involvement in extra-curricula activities.

Universities are all in competition with each other in trying to find the best students for their courses. All universities have a reputation of some sort, but more importantly, the courses themselves have a reputation amongst employers rather than the university. This, I believe is the most important. You can get this information and compare it with other institutions here:

One cannot assume that just because Sydney University or UNSW may have the best university world ranking in NSW, that it has the best reputation amongst employers for example in engineering or nursing. It may not. This is where you need to do some homework.

Increasingly, universities are predicting how successful a young school graduate will be at their university studies by a few various factors besides the ATAR:
  1. Portfolio of community engagement.
  2. Raw score results in Year 11 and 12 assessments and exams.
  3. School reports.
  4. Their level of sustained school involvement and positions of leadership.
  5. Their grades in subjects related to the degree they want to apply for (this may also provide bonus points towards their ATAR too)
  6. A school recommendation.
I acknowledge that school is increasingly becoming challenging for some students and that there are lots of balls to juggle whilst doing their studies. The reality is that universities are seeking “an all rounded student” because the research seems to suggest that it’s these students that will succeed at university and perhaps not just those who are solely academically proficient. They want students who are resilient, team players, who get involved in community life, are givers and not takers, social communicators, critical thinkers and are self-organised.

If you can juggle lots of things concurrently during the HSC years, then they consider you to be self-organised and an all-rounded student and perhaps a worthy recipient of a place in their institution despite the ATAR cut-off.

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