Media releases

Socio-economic status and the ATAR

20 Feb 2020

THE school year has begun and Year 12 students are already studying hard with the Higher School Certificate in their sights.

Many of these students will benefit from scholarships and schemes that aim to widen participation in higher education.

The Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) has today released new research investigating the relationship between the ATAR and first year success at university in relation to socio-economic status (SES).

Socio-Economic Status and the ATAR is based on research using data from students who completed their Higher School Certificate in 2017 and who applied through UAC for tertiary study in 2018.

The study found that application rates to UAC of ATAR-eligible students is closely related to ATAR, with higher ATAR students applying at a higher rate than lower ATAR students and this holds true for students from all SES categories.

Surprisingly it found that there is actually an increased application rate for those in lower SES quartiles for those with lower ATARs, particularly ATARs below 60.00. This may be reflective of work that UAC and its member institutions have done around widening participation.

Previous research has shown that the ATAR is very good at predicting how prepared a student is for university study. This new research shows that lower SES students perform to their ATAR at very similar rates to higher SES students.

The ATAR does not systematically discriminate against any SES group. Moreover, equity of access to, and achievement in, in a broader sense may be hampered by multiple factors outside the ATAR.

Kim Paino, General Manager of Marketing and Engagement at UAC will discuss this report, and previous UAC reports (The Effectiveness and Limitations of the ATAR; The Usefulness of the ATAR as a Measure of Academic Achievement and Potential) as part of a panel at the SMH Schools Summit today at the ICC.

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For further information (media only) email or contact: 
Diane Jardine, Communications Officer, UAC on (02) 9752 0775 or 0436 459 603, or 
Kim Paino, General Manager, Marketing and Engagement, UAC on (02) 9752 0760 or 0409 155 112.