Australian Year 12 students have been assured they will receive an ATAR university rank and graduate at the end of the year, despite COVID-19.

The Federal Minister for Education, Dan Tehan yesterday announced that the Commonwealth and states have agreed that all Year 12 students will finish high school this year.

“For all those students out there, for all those parents out there, there will be no year 13, there will be no mass repeating. You will get your leaving certificate this year,” he said.

The announcement comes after the national COAG Education Council met on Tuesday to discuss the current pandemic and its impact on schooling.

Speaking with triplej Hack, Mr Tehan said exams would be pushed back until November or December, with the government working to ensure students studying online are not disadvantaged.

“There needs to be an equity outcome as well, especially for those students who might not have access to the technology that others do,” he said.

“All states and territories have agreed that we will have a nationally consistent reporting time for ATAR’s so that then means that there will be fairness when students are looking at universities and vocation educational opportunities.”

The news has been welcomed by universities around the country, who have faced financial strain in recent months due to a downturn in international enrolments.

The Universities Australia chief executive, Catriona Jackson has told The Guardian it’s “not in anyone’s interest – neither the students, their parents, the schools or universities – to stop students from moving on.”

Meanwhile the head of the School of Education at the University of Wollongong, Sue Bennett has told ABC Illawarra she hopes these efforts will ease the anxieties of students as they prepare for their final assessments.

“Everyone is working together to make sure that this cohort of students isn’t disadvantaged.

She says she hopes the online learning experience will prepare the Year 12 cohort for future studies.

“The experience of remote learning, which is what’s happening to many of our Year 12 students, under a different kind of pressure that’s still high pressure, could prepare them really well if they want to go onto university,” she said.