According to Belinda Robinson, chief executive of the universities peak body, the recommendations generally align with the positions advocated by Universities Australia.
“The panel’s evidence-based recommendations are a measured and sensible way out of an increasingly complex and confusing admissions information mire.”
“We congratulate the panel for its open approach to consultation and for the quality of its report.”
“The panel’s recommendations strike the right balance by strengthening information standardisation and consistency, while respecting the autonomy of universities to determine the mechanisms and criteria for student admissions.”
“The university sector is unified in its acknowledgement of the need for greater transparency, consistency and clarity of information on university admissions policies, processes, procedures.”
“We also acknowledge the need to improve information accessibility and comparability.”
The introduction of the demand driven system together with the decline in the proportion of those entering university straight from school has led to an increase in the number and variety of pathways into university.
“This has meant that the ATAR, while still important and relevant, is only one of a number of means by which universities assess aptitude. As the system has become more complex, the ability to make informed decisions has become more difficult,” said Ms Robinson.
Universities Australia has also welcomed the panel’s comprehensive demolition of media claims of dramatic increases in the number of unprepared students being admitted into universities and escalating attrition rates.
The report notes that offers to students with ATARs below 50 represented just four per cent of offers in 2016 and less than 10 per cent of Year 12 offers were made to students with ATARs below 60.
“We also know that only around half of students with ATARs below 50 who receive offers actually accept them and fewer still go on to enrol.”
“On attrition, the panel notes its correlation to ‘the interconnected issues of intensity of study and mode of attendance, and the need to undertake paid employment while studying.”
The report states: ‘It needs to be emphasised that there is no crisis evident in the data’. It goes on to make clear that across the sector, attrition rates have changed little over the last decade.
‘Suggestions that attrition is reaching dangerous levels, or that widened access to universities is inevitably leading to lower completion rates are not based on facts,” the report states.
UA agrees with the panel that this is important debate needs to be much better informed that it is at present.
We commend the recommendations to the Government and would welcome the opportunity to work with the Minister and the Department on their implementation.