Media releases

The ATAR is alive and well

22 Mar 2018

THE ATAR continues to breathe life into university admissions, with approximately 80 per cent of Year 12 students applying through UAC* being admitted solely or substantially on the basis of their ATAR.

It’s important to note that the ATAR only relates to Year 12 students, so figures quoting the percentage of students admitted on the basis of ATAR that include all students, and not just Year 12s, are inherently misleading. Only 37 per cent of the students analysed by the recent Mitchell Institute report were Year 12 students, so it’s not surprising that only one in four of that group were admitted on the basis of ATAR. Of the Year 12 students included in the report, 70 per cent were admitted on the basis of ATAR.

For the majority of Year 12 students, ATAR remains the primary basis for university admission and, while the ATAR provides a sound baseline for all Year 12 students, the use of the ATAR in admitting Year 12 students is flexible. Year 12 students can be admitted using the ATAR alone or the ATAR plus other criteria.

The use of the ATAR and additional criteria to assess a student’s broader skills, such as a personal statement, a questionnaire, a portfolio of work, an audition, an interview or a test, has been in place for many years, and so it should be, with unis eager to recognise a diverse range of capabilities in their students.

Some institutions allocate subject bonus points in recognition of a Year 12 student’s performance in Year 12 subjects that are relevant to the course/s for which they have applied. 

Institutions also recognise the different circumstances of students by offering bonus points for schooling undertaken in rural and regional areas and for long-term educational disadvantage.

Importantly, the student’s selection rank – their ATAR and any bonus points – is the measure used for the majority of Year 12 students. Only for very few students is the ATAR not used at all.

‘The ATAR is a reliable predictor of performance at university’, says Kim Paino, UAC’s General Manager of Marketing and Engagement, ‘and it can be made even more useful by these other indicators.’

‘The landscape of admissions is nuanced, but ATAR for Year 12 students remains a very solid base from which to contextualise a student’s past performance and future potential.’

* Based on offers made through UAC in December Round 2, 2017 when the majority of NSW Year 12 students receive their offer. Detailed information about the ATAR can be found on UAC’s website.

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For further information (media only) email or contact:
Raquel Tracy, Communications Officer, UAC on 9752 0775
Kim Paino, General Manager, Marketing and Engagement, UAC on (02) 9752 0760 or 0409 155 112.