The Group of Eight universities aren’t giving up on the ATAR, basically because it works for them. Not that the Eight do not recognise it has problems. In common with the rest of Universities Australia, the elite unis are rolling out reforms. “We would not argue that the ATAR is without limitations and we strongly support institutional flexibility in admission practices,” Go8 CEO Vicki Thomson says. But she suggests this week’s Mitchell Institute report underestimated the ATARs importance as a widely used and effective measure of uni entry. Ms Thomson cites Department of Education and Training public figures for 2017 applications, offers and acceptances that 38 per cent of acceptances were based on an ATAR. She adds the Go8 admits “a greater proportion” of undergraduates on than any other university group “on the principal basis of their ATAR achievement. The ATAR is also a good predictor of university success for students with an 85 or better score, which an overwhelming number of Go8 entrants have.
“Context is everything,” Ms Thomson says.
The NSW Universities Admission Centre also speaks up for the ATAR, pointing out that quoting the per centage of all students admitted to university on the basis of their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank is “inherently misleading” and that 70 per cent of Y12 students admitted to uni in the Mitchell report used their ATAR.
“The use of the ATAR and additional criteria to assess a student’s broader skills, such as a personal statement, a questionnaire, a portfolio of work, an audition, an interview or a test, has been in place for many years, and so it should be, with unis eager to recognise a diverse range of capabilities in their students,” UAC asserts.