Recently University of Sydney announced that under a new scheme all NSW high school duxes will be guaranteed a place at University of Sydney. Under the scheme, targeted high achievers would not gain entrance to whatever course they wished, but would have the opportunity to seek admission into courses above the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) they had received.
This new program is the latest in a series of programs aimed at making universities more accessible through alternate routes of entry other than the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). Earlier in the year, University of Sydney were in the news regarding their partnership with Scots College allowing alternate criteria to be considered for entrance to university.
A main concern for universities in changing their admissions processes is ensuring that entrance remains equitable for all students. If a student is second in their class in a high achieving metropolitan school, are they less deserving of a guaranteed place than the dux of a smaller school? Arguably, the metropolitan student would have had access to more opportunities and resources resulting in a potentially higher ATAR, so perhaps offering opportunities to students who lacked these opportunities and yet still performed competitively is in fact a fair way to offer chances with criteria other than ATAR rankings.
The role of the admissions professional is now riddled with questions of what it means to be equitable in admissions whilst sorting through increased data. Offices are being challenged with multiple new channels to university that add more complexities in working out what criteria are most relevant for deciding which student is most likely to succeed in each course.
The Redefining Student Admission Strategies conference, taking place this August, will look at admissions beyond the ATAR. Book your place by June 10th to save $500.