Explore your options

Choosing courses

There are many different institutions of varying size and location to choose from when you are considering tertiary study. There are also different course types and costs. UAC's participating institutions offer more than 2,000 undergraduate courses. There are a number of questions you should ask yourself when you choose your courses.

WHAT COURSES AM I INTERESTED IN?

Think about your academic skills and your interests. What subjects are you good at? What do you enjoy studying? Choosing something that you are good at and interested in is the first step towards doing well at university. Investigate what jobs use these subjects as key parts of what they do. Talk to teachers, careers advisers, parents and family about what may suit you. Visit careers expos and open days where you can meet and talk to staff from institutions, prospective employers and recruiters.

Some students enrol in courses that they are not interested in and then drop out. Beware of things like peer pressure (‘I picked the same course as my friend’), family expectations (‘It’s what my mum and dad wanted me to do’), lack of direction (‘I don’t know what I want to do and this course is closest to home’) or misguided perceptions (‘My ATAR was better than I thought and I didn’t want to “waste” it’). Doing some research will help you make the right choice.

Also think about whether you want to study full-time, part-time or by distance/online. The pattern of attendance is indicated in each course description available through the course search. Many, but not all, courses are offered full-time and part-time, while some are only offered online.

WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF BEING SELECTED FOR A SPECIFIC COURSE?

Selection is a competitive process and depends on how well you meet the selection criteria for each course.

If you're a Year 12 student, admission to most tertiary courses is based on your selection rank (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) + any adjustments). 

For each course, UAC and universities publish an ATAR profile, which provides a broad overview of the ATARs and selection ranks of previous Year 12 students admitted into that course. Use all ATAR profile data as a guide only to your chances of receiving an offer; ATARs and selection ranks required for entry in 2019 may be different. If you are unsure about including a course among your preferences, contact the relevant institution.

The ATAR profile data published in the UAC course descriptions is in line with Commonwealth Government transparency requirements. It is based on offers to recent school leavers (ie completed Year 12 in 2015 to 2017) who were selected solely or partly on their ATAR. Note that some institutions further differentiate this information on their websites by publishing:

  • separate data for 2017 Year 12 students and 2015/16 Year 12 students
  • data relating to an entire year's intake (eg all offers made in 2017 – semesters 1 and 2). 

Don’t assume that the published lowest ATAR for a course is the ATAR you require to be made an offer to that course. The applicant who received that ATAR may have been eligible for adjustment factors and had their selection rank increased, making them eligible for an offer.

If you're a post-school applicant, institutions will look at your qualifications (eg your ATAR or your Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT) result) or your achievement in various pathways. Contact the relevant institutions to find out if you meet their course entry requirements.

Some institutions offer pathway courses for students who don’t meet the entry requirements of the degree course. To increase your chances of receiving an offer for tertiary study, you can apply for a pathway course through UAC.

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR THE COURSE?

To be eligible to be considered for a course you must:

  • meet the admission requirements of the institution offering the course
  • meet the entrance requirements of the course – some courses have course prerequisites or additional selection criteria. Check the course descriptions available through the course search

If you don’t meet the entry requirements for the degree courses of your choice, you can select pathway courses as your preferences. Some institutions may make a slipback offer to a pathway course if you’re not eligible or competitive enough to receive an offer to a course to which you’ve applied. Speak to the institution if you are concerned you won’t be eligible for your preferred course.

DOES THE COURSE HAVE ADDITIONAL SELECTION CRITERIA OR SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS?

Some courses have additional selection criteria you must meet. Examples include a personal statement, questionnaire, portfolio of work, audition, interview or test. For more information, check the course descriptions available through the course search. In addition, there are special requirements and policies for students in both health and welfare courses and teacher education courses.

WHAT KIND OF CAREER DOES THE COURSE LEAD TO?

Talk to your careers adviser and find information about career opportunities for each course in the relevant course descriptions available through the course search. You can also find careers information online:

  • Professional societies, institutes or associations provide useful career resources. Some tertiary institutions list professional organisations on their websites.
  • The Good Careers Guide provides information on more than 400 occupations, including job descriptions, personal requirements, education and training, employment opportunities, related jobs and contacts.
  • The Good Universities Guide profiles all Australian universities, as well as select private providers and TAFEs, to help you compare institutions and courses.
  • My Future is a government career information and exploration service which can help you manage your career with information on particular jobs, general career areas and courses.
  • Careers Advisory Service is a NSW Government initiative that has up-to-date information on a range of career and study options available following the release of the HSC results.
  • Graduate Careers Australia produces a range of graduate-related information about industry and salary trends and employment opportunities.
  • Commercial job vacancy websites show you the variety of jobs available, skill shortages in different fields and job growth areas.