Why the ATAR will not die

Despite years of criticism young people know what it does

In the absence of personal knowledge of alternatives, senior school students understand the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank as the way to access university.

“They were often unaware that different paths exist and that many young people enter university through other means. Only a minority of participants were aware of alternative pathways to university or expressed a desire to complete a vocational path in its own right,” Megan O’Connell. Aarushi Singhania, Maci Hamdorf, and  Ciannon Cazaly, (all RMIT) write in a new study of pathways for the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.

“While there are many pathways, finding out about them, who they are open to, the cost, and how and when to access them can be confusing. There is no clear information on the typologies of alternative pathways or university pathway programs and no single resource showing the range of options to gain entry to different courses or education providers. This challenge highlights the barriers young people may face when seeking higher education through other entry mechanisms,” they report.

Part of the answer is more information in earlier school years, about careers and courses in VET and higher education.

And there is a role for universities to expand their reach, “young people in focus groups had at most spoken to representatives from a single university, which was the closest university and most often in a partnership or outreach arrangement with the school. They suggested alternatives to enable more universities and more faculties to reach them effectively.”