Go to top of page

Breaking down barriers to The New Success

University entrance requirements, such as ATAR, are a barrier to enabling students to develop the skills and capabilities they need to succeed in the 21st Century, according to Charles Fadel and Jennifer Westacott.

Both used ALL’s learning lecture in May to challenge universities to broaden the entrance requirements to encouraging schooling that develops, rather than impedes, the capabilities that matter to future success.

As Jennifer Westacott, CEO of Business Council of Australia, said in her introduction: “Our system through mechanisms like the ATAR, drives everyone to focus on preparing young people for the next qualification…the ATAR is about making it easier for universities to pick students, not focused on giving students a learning experience that allows them to reach their full potential.”

ALL is currently is its role in taking up the challenge of addressing ATAR. It has met with several of Australia’s education experts to discuss the issue, and to consider alternative pathways into university.

“We know from our own research is that there are many trials of alternative entry pathways but nothing at scale has yet emerged,” Ellen Koshland said.

“We also have heard concerns that ATAR is a barrier as it drives a focus on preparing students for the next qualification rather than encouraging deep learning and preparing students for life,” she added.

A review of submissions into the Federal Government’s Higher Education Standards Panel consultation on the transparency of higher education admissions processes has revealed the role of ATAR is changing, and universities are increasingly using other mechanisms such as interviews and portfolios as well as ATAR.

As Universities Australia highlighted in its submission: “ATAR… needs to encourage, rather than impede, the lifelong learning, upskilling and retraining that is becoming the norm in our modern economy. An ATAR tells you something about a student's ability to achieve at school but it doesn't tell you everything."