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ANU entry to be based on more than just an ATAR score in major overhaul

By Ian Bushnell 30 May 2018 8

Students at the ANU. The university is broadening its admissions criteria for undergraduate students beyond ATAR scores. Photo: Supplied by the ANU. 

In a major change to entry requirements, from 2020 the Australian National University (ANU) will no longer rely solely on ATAR scores but take into account other criteria such as a student’s all round character including community engagement and leadership, sport or volunteering activities and part-time work.

The ANU says the changes will simplify the processes for new students with a single application process to cover admissions, accommodation and scholarships, while providing more certainty with earlier offers and transparency over ATAR cut-offs.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Marnie Hughes Warrington said the changes would be applicable to school students in year 11 in 2018 who are planning to start university study in 2020.

The changes include:

  • Incorporation of unique skills, such as community service, volunteering, working part time, caring for their families, school leadership, excelling in sports, gaming, performance, competitions, alongside ATAR scores;
  • Greater certainty for students by providing early offers to programs, scholarship and accommodation;
  • An easier single application process to cover admissions, accommodation and scholarships;
  • A continued commitment to transparency by publishing ATAR cut-offs and full student requirements for entry to courses; and
  • Places for the top students from schools around the country who have the marks and ambition to succeed.

Professor Hughes-Warrington said the new system would make it easier for school leavers who often face a maze of application forms and often don’t know what they will be studying or where they will be living until the last minute.

“From next year, under our new model, year 12 students will be able to apply to ANU in March. We will make provisional offers to students in August, on the condition that they meet the subject entry requirements after their final exams,” she said.

“That means students will know they have a place at ANU much earlier, and they can start planning for their life at University.”

Professor Hughes-Warrington said that under the new admissions model, school leavers would need to demonstrate their co-curricular or service skills, with applicants recognised for a range of skills including communication, personal responsibility, teamwork, inclusiveness and critical thinking.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said ANU would guarantee places to the top students from across Australia who demonstrate the required academic aptitude and community spirit.

“As Australia’s national university we have a responsibility and a mandate to educate students from across Australia who have the capacity and ambition to succeed,” Professor Schmidt said.

“I want every Australian student, from Broome, to Bourke, to Burnie, to know ANU is their national university. We are a university for anyone who wants to study at one of the best universities in the world, and alongside the best and brightest in the country.

“We know students are more than just a score. We know they are passionate, we know they have unique skills, we know they gain experience through community service, volunteering, working part time, participating in school leadership, excelling in sports, gaming, performance, competitions and more.

“We also know that sometimes life pans out a bit differently for some students. Some students have to work to support themselves, or care for their family or face other challenges. These are all important life skills and we will consider these factors alongside their ATAR marks.

“We’ve drawn on admissions research from Australia and around the world to develop a new model for undergraduate university admissions to reach these talented young students.”

Professor Hughes-Warrington will conduct a series of public seminars across Australia on the new admissions system.

More information is available on the ANU Admissions website at http://www-dev.anu.edu.au/study/apply/new-admissions-for-2020.


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8 Responses to
ANU entry to be based on more than just an ATAR score in major overhaul
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justin heywood 5:48 pm 01 Jun 18

In theory this is a good idea, and similar ideas have worked well for medicine at some unis.
My issue is that the ATAR required for so many ANU courses (eg sciences) are already low.
If the desire AND the reality is to attract more well-rounded students then good.
If it’s really just another ‘back-door’ for underperforming students, then it will just continue to erode ANUs standards.

chewy14 11:12 am 31 May 18

It’s funny how some people seem to think that the only measure of the likelihood of a person succeeding at completing a university degree is their ATAR score or results at high school/college.

Whilst important, the ATAR is a very crude measure and this change will allow more flexibility in recognising other factors that influence the chance of a student succeeding in a university atmosphere which is wildly different from year 12.

It’s a good move.

Daniel Duncan 7:25 am 31 May 18

So as an uncharitable person I would be discriminated against from attending the ANU? isn't that against the law?

Gabriel Spacca 11:06 pm 30 May 18

So now entry will be based on qualitative as well as quantitative criteria. That won’t introduce the possibility of abuse of the process at all. What could possibly go wrong?

gooterz 11:03 pm 30 May 18

More excuses to lower the atar.
Offering places earlier so students cant apply to more than one uni .

No point lowering the grades if the students are going to fail and drop out. Uni is 4 years of assessment

Roisin Boadle 6:48 pm 30 May 18

This sounds a little like the UK system where you submit your predicted grades and write a personal statement. The personal statement usually covers why you want to study your chosen subject and about you as an overall person. It enables universities to determine whether you are a good fit for them and helps them distinguish between multiple students with similar grades. It doesn't necessarily mean letting in people who's academic grades aren't up to scratch, it's about recognising that all to extra stuff you do makes you a better prospective student.

Christine Mary 5:36 pm 30 May 18

Not for medicine or law please! I don't want a nice all round dummy I want the smartest doctor or lawyer around

    Jesse Mahoney 7:19 pm 30 May 18

    Life isn't just about the highest numbers, and certainly isn't for many of the kids from lower socio economic backgrounds.

    I for one like professionals with some compassion and other life skills. They still have to pass their uni degree after all..!

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