Australian universities will be forced to reveal real ATAR cut-offs for courses after a government commissioned report released today found unis weren't giving future students clear information to make "informed decisions".
The damning report said unis were making "exaggerated claims regarding ATAR requirements" to try to "boost perceived prestige" and publishing only main round offer cut-offs, even when students were admitted in later rounds with lower ranks.
"Entry into universities has become more equitable," the report, from a panel assembled by education minister Simon Birmingham in February, noted.
"Yet there is evidence that families with less experience of higher education, which are economically disadvantaged or live in regional Australia, are less able to understand how admissions processes operate."
Sydney universities were admitting more than 60% of students below the public entry cut-off, Fairfax Media revealed in January.
Even prestigious courses like law at the University of NSW were admitting most students below minimum entry standards.
For recent school leavers, ATAR is the largest single mechanism for university entry accounting for 70% of offers to this group.
But the focus on ATAR can be misleading as "it is the entry mechanism only for a little over 30% of all higher education enrolments" for commencing students, the report said.
"As a consequence, many prospective students assume they will only be admitted if they achieve a certain ATAR, when this might not be the case."
Birmingham will provide an official government response to the recommendations “within weeks”.
“I support the intent of the recommendations from the panel, that there should be greater clarity and uniformity in the information available to students,” he will tell a higher education conference in Melbourne today.
“We must ensure that we provide students, and their families, with the information they need, on an easily accessible and understood platform, in a format that is comparable and consistent across jurisdictions to ensure they make informed decisions about their future.”
Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
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