Media Releases

Why the ATAR doesn’t care if you do languages…or anything else

08 Jun 2021

IN response to recent media reports on the scaling of languages, the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) says that the current methodology for calculating the ATAR is the fairest way for universities to select students for admission.

Kim Paino, General Manager of Marketing and Engagement at UAC said, ‘While we support endeavours to increase the study of languages, we don’t support the idea of treating languages differently in the scaling process.’

There is a high correlation between performance in languages and performance in other subjects, meaning that students are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by choosing a language or any other subject.

Ms Paino says ‘This is precisely the intention of the scaling process – it is agnostic about subject choice, leaving students to choose according to their abilities, interests and future goals. And studying a language is no barrier to achieving a high ATAR – in fact, in 2020 language units were over-represented in the calculation for those students who received an ATAR of 99.95.’

Rather than changing the scaling process to favour languages, the current system of applying adjustment factors and mandating prerequisites could be used to increase the study of languages. Prerequisites are a powerful way of influencing student behaviour, as evidenced by recent growth in the candidature of Mathematics Advanced, and adjustment factors can have far more impact on the overall selection rank than arbitrarily increasing the scaled marks of certain subjects.’

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For further information (media only) email media@uac.edu.au or contact:
Diane Jardine, Communications Coordinator, UAC on 0436 459 603, or
Kim Paino, General Manager, Marketing and Engagement, UAC on 0409 155 112.