University of Wollongong students and representatives have expressed support for diverse pathways to university.
The support follows a report by the Mitchell Institute that considered the ATAR as a mechanism for university admission.
The report found one in four, 25 per cent, of students in 2016 were accepted into university based on their ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank), compared to one in three (33 per cent) in 2014.
The decrease in ATAR-based admissions has coincided with a rise of students starting higher education, an increase of 46 per cent since 2007.
University of Wollongong Director of Student Services Division Theresa Hoynes was pleased with the outcomes and success of the universities alternative pathways.
“University of Wollongong has been running a successful admissions program for over two decades… in 2017 we had close to two-thirds of our students come to the university of Wollongong through non-ATAR based pathways,” she said
“University of Wollongong will always maintain a diversity of pathways into the university because we want to ensure the success of our students and we want to consider all the factors that impact students in their lives.”
Ms Hoynes did not dismiss the ATAR as an university entry mechanism.
“I think the ATAR will always remain for this University a critical indicator of potential for student success,” she said.
The Mitchell Institute report fell short of calling for the ATAR system to be replaced.
“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,” Mitchell Institute Director Megan O’Connor said.
The National Union of Students supports alternative pathways, and said there are significant limitations in basing access to higher education on Year 12 marks alone.
“Alternative methods will certainly make it easier for students with marginalised or disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education,” National Union of Students President Mark Pace said.
“We’ve seen that students who enter through enabling courses… are four times more likely to complete their bachelor’s degree than those who can through ATAR requirements.”
In response to the report’s claim 25 per cent of students gaining admission to university via their ATAR score, Mr Pace said: “I don’t really think it matters as to what the proportion is.”
“I think that if students are able to directly enter university from their ATAR then that’s fantastic, however, it’s good to hear that three-quarters of students are able to access high education through other means,” Mr Pace said.
Tom Carroll, a student at the UOW who gained entry through an alternative pathway, was never confident with the ATAR system and said it had not defined his success.
“I got a tragic ATAR, which I will not reveal here, however, I have a distinction average in my major and I’ve never failed a subject once at uni in my four years,” Mr Carroll said.