Many mainstream schools seem to reinforce the message that the ATAR is everything.
In 2017, around 60% of domestic undergraduate university offers were reported as non-ATAR, meaning there's a diversity of pathways to higher education.
Regardless of your ATAR, it’s important to keep vocational pathways in mind, not as a lesser option, but as a way of getting experience in an industry you’re interested in.
Students should consider all their options and remember the ATAR is just one measure that doesn't necessarily dictate how well they will do in future.
A year of high expectations, yet little action.
Gonski funding was scrapped and the vocational education sector got a new student loan system. Here's what else happened in education this year...
Universities will now need to use common language around their admissions processes.
The government has announced it will accept recommendations to make the university admissions process more transparent. But that alone isn't enough.
Students sit next to the quadrangle at the University of Sydney.
More students than ever before have the opportunity for higher education but their choices are being undermined by a confusing admissions system in much need of reform.
What are some alternatives to the ATAR?
In determining a replacement for the ATAR, it will be essential to consider the impacts of any such change on the school and vocational education systems.
In 2014, less than a third of undergraduates were offered a university place on the basis of their ATAR score alone.
The government wants to make the university admissions process more transparent as a way to provide greater choice. But this fails to recognise how the system currently works.
We need to do more to ensure teaching is an attractive profession.
Low pay and status are the main factors turning potentially good teachers away from teaching. We need to work on making teaching an attractive profession.
Should universities ditch the ATAR and use other ways to select students onto courses?
The ATAR system is cheap and efficient, but it means students are selected to go to university on the basis of a single score which some have claimed is too simplisitc. Is it time for a new system?
Setting minimum ATAR levels will not improve quality of teaching.
A change in enrolment patterns demands a more comprehensive approach to selection to teacher education programs that goes beyond establishing minimum ATAR cutoff points.
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How much emphasis should we place on ATAR scores?
The ATAR is being used less and less as the sole measure that universities use to select students. It's time to question its value and the pressure it puts on students in year 12.
The focus on teaching anything about Australian languages in our universities has declined over the past decade.
From 2016, students will be able to study Aboriginal languages in high schools in New South Wales – but a clause in the design of the course means grades will not contribute towards ATARs.
The supply of teachers cannot be turned on and off like a tap – it takes years to create a teacher.
The narrow focus on grades and random employment statistics reflects a very simplistic view of our complex education system.
Prospective uni students often talk about “wasting their ATAR”. Don’t worry about that, it’s not a thing.
How do you choose the right university, or the right degree? The whole process can seem daunting. What should you focus on? How do you weigh up the different elements involved?
Doing poorly at school doesn’t mean you’ll do poorly at university.
New research has found that results at high school aren't good predictors of how students will perform at university.
Students with low ATARs are less likely to graduate from university, but very likely to leave with debt. So is it ethical to give places to all-comers?
Controversies surrounding university courses with low ATAR admission requirements have become a January ritual. Once universities make their offers to potential students, debates start over whether widening…
Getting a low ATAR, or not getting the ATAR you need for the university course you want, can seem like the end of the world. But it’s not.
The release of this year’s Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) will result in mixed feelings among school-leavers. There are those who will be elated at having achieved a score that places them in…
Tutors may be a good thing for improving test scores, but may be a bad thing if the student becomes overly reliant on the tutor.
Significant numbers of secondary school students receive additional assistance from private tutors. This requires a measure of time, commitment and sometimes a substantial financial investment. So does…
Less students are choosing to undertake more complex maths subjects because they want to maximise their tertiary admission score.
The percentage of students taking intermediate or advanced mathematics at school has declined significantly. Why is this happening and why does it matter? Why the decline? Some factors that influence whether…