Universities Australia supports the objective of the Minister and the Higher Education Standards Panel (the Panel) to improve transparency without increasing red tape for universities, and appreciates the opportunity to contribute to the process for doing so. We note that improving information for students and parents on higher education options has bi-partisan political support.

In placing students at the centre of considerations for improving the transparency of information on university entry requirements, we agree that information needs to be accurate, comprehensive, accessible and presented in a consistent format across the sector. This has become even more pressing in the more competitive operating environment created by the demand-driven system.

Greater consistency and transparency will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of admissions processes. Further, better informed decision-making by students could also be expected to lead to an increase in student satisfaction, retention and success.

The nature, presentation, availability and location of information should be considered from the perspective of the prospective student who will be contemplating one of the most important decisions they will make in their lives.

Less than 50 per cent of these students will be entering university directly from school, many of them will come from disadvantaged and under-privileged backgrounds, and some will have experienced some life event that may have affected the academic performance at school but not their potential to succeed at university.

University admissions policies, procedures and processes have evolved to take account of the increasing diversity in the make-up of the prospective student load.

Out of necessity, they have increased in their complexity. Unfortunately, they have also increased in their opacity.

Universities Australia supports measures that, without undermining the autonomy of universities, ensure students have easy access to clear, unambiguous information that is consistently presented to allow for comparisons to be made between institutions.

In this context, Universities Australia recommends that the Panel:

  1. Endorses and be guided by the student-centred principle of easy access to clear, accurate and comparable information that respects university autonomy on admissions policies, procedures and practices.
  2. Ensure its recommendations, through the inclusion of contextual information, reflect the contemporary, demand-driven Australian higher education system designed to supply future labour market needs (both professional and generic).
  3. Endorses Universities Australia’s proposed approach to developing comparable terminology and definitions in particular, endorse Universities Australia’s proposal to clearly distinguish between ‘raw’ ATARs and selection ranks that are actually used to admit students, and to clarify that ‘cut-offs’, when used, refer to selection ranks, not to ‘raw’ ATARs.
  4. Adopt Universities Australia’s proposed approach to publication and presentation of comparable information about admission pathways into courses.
  5. Endorse Universities Australia’s proposal that universities publish on course websites statistics and information on admissions in previous years (including, numbers and proportions of students admitted through different pathways; distribution of ATAR scores and selection ranks of school leavers admitted).

To view the full submission, click the link below.

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