News // Atar

Actual minimum ATARs to be published

Prospective students will have greater certainty over whether their ATAR will get them into the program they're applying for.

Cut out photograph of the University of Sydney Law School on a pink background, with "99.75?" written in hot pink over the top. Image: Justine Landis-Hanley

The University of Sydney has released the minimum ATARs required for entry into most of its undergraduate programs this week.

USyd has typically published predicted ATAR requirements for each course according to the previous year’s admissions. The final ATAR cut-off for a course is determined after students receive their score in December, based on what the University establishes as the minimum academic standard the course requires, as well as the number of places available in, and the demand for, the degree.

Rather than just predict the incoming year’s ATAR cut-off, USyd has told students the minimum ATAR they will need to achieve in order to have a chance at getting into their desired program based on the academic requirement alone.

“The fixed ATAR will be based on an academic judgement,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor Tyrone Carlin told The Brisbane Times in an article published online last weekend.

“You set a level of academic preparedness that you’d expect a candidate to have [for each program]”.

While demand and supply may raise the ATAR cut-off year to year, the minimum ATAR is unlikely to change, thus giving students throughout high schools greater certainty about their admission requirements.

“Our aim is to be simple and transparent and eliminate uncertainty around the ATARs universities require by saying this is what you will need,” Carlin told The Brisbane Times.

The move comes after a Fairfax Media investigation found students with marks up to 40 points below the advertised course cut-offs were offered places in degrees such as business, teaching and engineering last year.

While USyd had the lowest share of below ATAR admissions, Fairfax Media found 27 per cent of students admitted in 2016 received ATARs well below the required entry score.

The federal government removed the cap on student admissions in 2012, thereby allowing universities to accept as many students to whom they felt able to cater.

However, in light of the Fairfax Media investigation, the Turnbull government has demanded that all Australian universities report the raw ATARs of students offered a place in each course regardless of whether entry-schemes, such as bonus points, were used, as part of the national admissions transparency plan.

The change will provide applicants with greater certainty around entry requirements, and stop them from wasting course preferences on undergraduate programs into which they are unlikely to be admitted.