Explore your options

Steps to uni for Year 11 and 12 students

If you’re unsure about what you’d like to do when you finish school, and are wondering if university is for you, you’re not alone. Just remember that uni isn’t only for the brightest students or for those with a specific career path in mind. Uni is for anyone who’s committed to reaching their full potential and wants to acquire the skills and experience to achieve their goals.

Keep your options open by taking the time to understand how the university application process works, how institutions use the ATAR to select students, non-ATAR pathways to tertiary study, and the many levels of financial support available to you. 

1. Research

Search for courses that align with your interests and read about the areas of study that they cover and the careers they might lead to. Use the published ‘LSR’ (lowest selection rank) as a guide to your chances of being selected for those courses. If you’re concerned that your ATAR might not be high enough to get an offer to any of the courses you’re interested in, take a look at the various pathways to university.

Your selection rank will be your ATAR unless the institution adjusts your selection rank for a particular course because, for example, you’ve performed well in a related Year 12 course or you’ve experienced educational disadvantages. We used to call these adjustments ‘bonus points’.

Be aware that there are special entry requirements for students applying to study medicine or medical sciences (eg UMAT) and health, welfare and teaching courses.

Take note of important dates in the application process.

Get advice on choosing courses.

2. Apply for uni

Every year, more than 50,000 Year 12 students apply for uni online through UAC. Applying through UAC means you don’t need to apply separately to each institution. You can apply for up to five courses at any of our participating institutions. It also means you can apply for early offer schemes processed through UAC (Schools Recommendation Schemes) and Educational Access Schemes.

After you apply you can log back in to your application to change your course preferences, track the status of your application and participate in our many offer rounds.

Read more about how to apply through UAC.

3. Apply for Educational Access Schemes, Schools Recommendation Schemes and Equity Scholarships

Educational Access Schemes (EAS) help students who have experienced long-term educational disadvantage gain admission to tertiary study. Find out more.

Schools Recommendation Schemes (SRS) aim to help you access higher education through recommendations from your school. Unis use a wide range of selection criteria, including school recommendations, senior secondary studies and personal awards and achievements. Find out more.

Equity Scholarships (ES) help financially disadvantaged students with the general costs associated with tertiary study. By submitting just one application you’ll be considered for all available Equity Scholarships for which you’re eligible. Find out more.

Find out about financial assistance while you are at uni.

4. Order your course preferences for early offers

Early entry schemes (including SRS) make offers before the December and January offer rounds. Your preferences are considered in the order you list them, so make sure you have the course you most want to do as your first preference.

5. Get your ATAR

ATARs are released mid-December on UAC’s website and the My UAC app. The ATAR helps universities rank applicants for selection into their courses.

Find out about the ATAR calculation and getting your result.

6. Review your course preferences

Once you’ve received your HSC results and your ATAR and have an idea of the selection rank adjustments you may be eligible for, it’s time to go back to your preferences to make sure they’re realistic. Perhaps you’ve done better than you expected and want to change the courses you applied for, or maybe you’ve rethought what you really want to study.

You don’t want to miss out on an offer because you don’t meet the selection ranks for the courses you’ve listed. Go back and look at last year’s lowest selection rank for your preferred courses.

If you’re concerned that you’re not going to meet the selection ranks for these courses, consider adding one or two pathway courses to your list of preferences. Pathway courses generally include non-degree courses such as foundation studies, preparatory courses and certificates, diploma or associate degree courses. If you successfully complete a pathway course, an institution may guarantee you entry into a particular degree course. Otherwise, you can use your pathway course studies to apply and compete for admission to other degree courses. You may also be awarded credit for some of your pathway course studies.

Also check that you’re not wasting preferences by listing courses that have already closed or have additional selection criteria or prerequisites that you haven’t met.

Read more about selecting course preferences.

7. Get your offer

Most institutions make offers to Year 12 students in the December and January rounds. You can change your course preferences between offer rounds.

Your admission to most tertiary courses will be based on your selection rank, which is usually your ATAR. However, if other factors are taken into consideration, these will be combined with your ATAR to adjust your selection rank and make it higher than your ATAR. These adjustments used to be called ‘bonus points’.

In addition to setting a selection rank, some courses specify course prerequisites (eg completing, or achieving a specified standard in, a particular HSC course), which you have to satisfy before you can be considered for an offer.

Most universities also use other criteria when selecting students. Some courses have additional selection criteria such as a personal statement, a questionnaire, a portfolio of work, an audition, an interview or a test, which are considered together with (or sometimes instead of) your selection rank.

Find out more about how offers work.

8. Accept and enrol

Accept your offer and follow the institution’s instructions to start the enrolment process. Don’t worry, you can still receive offers in later rounds, even if you’ve already accepted a previous offer.

View our flowchart of the steps to take to receive multiple offers.

Read more about accepting your offer.

Gap years

If you’re intending to take a gap year, we recommend that you apply now and defer. If you wait a year you will be applying as a post-school applicant and competing against other post-school applicants who may have a range of qualifications and experiences. You may also no longer have access to certain early entry schemes, such as Schools Recommendation Schemes, or adjustment factors that will increase your selection rank (eg recognition of achievement in an HSC course).