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Getting into uni with or without an ATAR

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A diverse group of male and female students sitting outside a Curtin building at Bentley Campus.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no “right’ way to get into uni. Your journey to university is uniquely yours, with multiple pathways available to step into higher education, regardless of your academic past.

Whether you’ve taken a break from education, didn’t complete Year 12, have an ATAR, or the ATAR you achieved wasn’t quite what you expected, there really are loads of different avenues for you to pursue university studies.

Let’s explore how.

Understanding ATAR

Firstly, a bit about the ATAR – the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. It’s a number between 0.00 and 99.95 given to Year 12 students which universities use for admissions. If you completed high school before its introduction in 2009/2010, your final rank had a different name, like TER. And, if you studied general subjects, VET subjects or studied before these ranking systems, you won’t have an ATAR or ATAR equivalent.

You can use your ATAR score to get into your preferred course. Each course has a defined ATAR, either minimum or guaranteed, that you must match to be eligible to apply.

Entering university without an ATAR: how is it possible? The ATAR ranks your performance against your peers but doesn’t define your academic potential. A range of factors, from personal challenges to changing interests, can impact this score.

University enabling courses (UniReady)

Curtin’s UniReady course is a very popular way students who haven’t met the admission criteria for their desired course qualify for a large range of our undergraduate courses.

As a non-school leaver, current student Samuel Murphy leveraged the UniReady course to pivot into a Bachelor of Business Administration, and eventually into a graduate role that fits him perfectly – a Project Manager Trainee. He is working this job while still studying – utilising Curtin’s flexible course structure to move between work and studying as he needs to.

Samuel Murphy, Bachelor of Business Administration

“I planned to specialise in Project Management in my degree, and with the recommendation from one of my lecturers, I created my own LinkedIn profile. This led me to discover a job for a Project Manager Trainee, which ultimately, I applied for and won. I took Semester 2 of 2022 off from uni and worked as a project manager instead. I love working as a Project Manager and believe I have the right qualities to succeed in a position like this.”

Curtin College

Curtin College is a direct pathway to a bachelor degree at Curtin. Completing a one-year Curtin College diploma guarantees a place in the second year of the related bachelor degree, subject to meeting progression rules and admission criteria.

Undergraduate certificates

Introduced in 2020, undergraduate certificates can serve as a gateway to bachelor degrees, often with no entry prerequisites. They allow you to start your university education in manageable steps.

Leveraging work and life experience

Years of work experience and vocational training count significantly. Curtin values the skills and knowledge you’ve gained outside the classroom, which can be your ticket into a degree.

A TAFE Certificate IV is equivalent to a 70 ATAR Certificate IV from TAFE isn’t just a vocational milestone in itself; it’s also considered equivalent to an ATAR of 70. This opens up many Curtin courses for TAFE graduates aiming for university studies.

Indigenous Tertiary Enabling CourseThe Indigenous Tertiary Enabling Course at Curtin University is a six-month, full-time program designed to fast-track the educational journey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into undergraduate studies. Upon completion, students are eligible for entry into a range of Curtin’s degree and associate degree programs, supported by opportunities for career development, including mentoring and student work placements.

Portfolio Entry: Your Story, Your Strength

The portfolio entry pathway is where your story becomes your strength. Here, your academic achievements, work experiences, and personal qualifications paint a picture of your potential, providing a vibrant alternative to the traditional ATAR route.

For Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) graduate Cameron Howard, portfolio entry was the perfect avenue to take his love for art from a personal passion to a professional pursuit.

His portfolio, a curated collection of his best visual artwork spoke volumes of his talent and dedication to visual arts. His potential for university wasn’t measured on scores or grades, but on the depth and expression of his artistry.

Cameron Howard, Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art)

“Portfolio entry was the best-suited option for me, considering my background. I wanted to learn more about painting and drawing, to delve deeper into the craft I love,” Now, with a Bachelor of Fine Art under my belt and a Master of Teaching on the horizon, I’m turning my dreams into a reality – becoming an Art teacher.”

For Cameron, this recognition wasn’t just about getting into university; it was about finding a place that valued his artistic journey and could further his aspirations of teaching.

University study isn’t just about opening doors; it’s about opening the right door for you. So, whether you’re straight out of high school, a few years into your career, or looking to turn a lifelong passion into a qualification, Curtin is ready to help you get to where you want to be. Check out our pathways resources and application support pages, and if you need some one-to-one support with your application or just want to have a chat about it, feel free to get in touch with our Future Students team.

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