ATAR not good enough? Why it’s not the end of the world

by User Not Found | Dec 22, 2015

uni_grads_for_blogHow many times have you heard, ‘It’s not the end of the world’ or shared this advice with someone else? Right now, there are many students in Year 12 who are starting to feel nervous and anxious as they wait for their final results and wonder  what the future has in store for them.


There’s a perception—that for many students—the road they’ll end up taking hinges on their ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) score, or for students in Queensland, their OP (Overall Position) results.


But is this necessarily the case?


According to an article in The Age, a higher ATAR doesn't reflect course quality, and two-thirds of university places offered will be to people without an ATAR at all.


Professor Marcia Devlin is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Federation University Australia and said there needs to be more transparency.


“The public are currently being misled by what is essentially a clever marketing system using ATARs as proxies of quality.


“More people at university with no ATAR or lower ATARs than in the past does not mean the end of civilisation nor the collapse of standards, despite the scare-mongering that goes on that might lead one to believe these are possibilities. It does mean that universities need to increasingly focus on ensuring the highest quality of teaching and learning possible for all students,” Ms Devlin told The Age.


So while Year 12 students may think their ATAR defines them—as a parent—it might be a good time to remind your child that, ‘it’s not the end of the world’.


Associate Professor Berenice Nyland from RMIT is a former selections officer and says there are many entry options available for students wanting to go to university.


“If their score is not sufficient for the program of their choice there are pathways through the vocational sector. For early childhood, a student can study and gain a formal qualification for work purposes, while working towards an education degree. There is also a growing system of associate degrees that links the vocational sector to the higher education sector.”


And sometimes, it works out for the best.


“I have seen many students who did not get their first choice and found the pathways they pursued were often something that they enjoyed so much and had success in, that they were grateful.


"One that comes to mind is a student who studied for a Certificate III when she completed school and worked in a childcare centre. While she worked she upgraded her qualifications, became a teacher with a degree, then did an honours degree, and now has a PhD scholarship, and is teaching part-time at a university,” said Associate Professor Nyland.

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