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Is the ATAR over?

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]When you’re in high school, the ultimate goal is (most of the time) to get the best ATAR you can. Maybe you’ve chosen subjects based on your strengths, rather than what’s most enjoyable in order to boost your score. Or maybe you’ve enrolled in a particular course at uni simply because you achieved the ATAR needed to get in.

The truth is, there are so many alternative pathways to undergraduate study. Did you know that only one in four students are using their ATAR to get into tertiary education?

Re-examining the ATAR

The Mitchell Institute at Victoria University has recently launched a study into how important the ATAR really is. The Director of Mitchell Institute, Megan O’Connell, says the study is investigating whether the ATAR is actually hindering educational goals.

“The question parents, students and teachers should be asking today is, if ATAR doesn’t matter for three quarters of undergraduate admissions, why is it treated as the most important outcome of 13 years of schooling?” says Megan.

Higher doesn’t mean better

It’s a common myth that the higher the ATAR requirement for a course, the “better” it is. The reality? ATAR cutoffs for universities are based on supply and demand. Popular courses like medicine often have a high cutoff score because there are not enough places in the course for the amount of applicants.

Even if you didn’t receive a high enough score to get into your dream course, there are so many alternate pathways to get that qualification. You can complete a year of a similar degree and use your grades to transfer over to a different course. Or, do away with scores altogether and enrol in a Diploma or Bachelor at TAFE.

Alternate pathways gaining popularity

Enrolments in tertiary education have increased by 46% since 2007, however students are increasingly choosing alternate pathways to that study. If it’s no longer a relevant factor for the majority of students, maybe it’s time to rethink how we measure aptitude, says Megan.

“It is time to look across our education system, decide what we want it to deliver for young people, for communities and for our future economy, then consider what role, if any, the ATAR should play.”

Still not convinced?

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Dr Joanne Orlando

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Read more about Weber Liu.

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Anastasia Miros

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Read more about Anastasia.

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2 Responses

  1. These has definitely been an increase in alternate entry into university but before ATAR is scrapped a similar study needs to look at the success of those “alternate entry students’ while at university. Although ATAR allows you to compare students for entry on a level playing field the more important thing (I feel) is that it is preparing them with the skills they require when they get there to succeed.
    ATAR is definitely no longer the only way in but does it still provide you with the best skills for achievement once you get there?

    1. Great point, Rachel. Do you think the obsession with getting a high ATAR is interfering with students learning essential study skills? Or even life skills for that matter?

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