20 January 2015
Over 69,000 applicants have received an offer, through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC), for a place at a Victorian university, some private higher education colleges and for some courses at TAFE institutes. .University offers totalled about 57,000 out of about 68,000 applications, meaning a “success rate” of 84%, compared to 85% in 2014 but way ahead of the 75% rate in 2009, the year that places began to be uncapped. The average Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) for entry declined slightly, from 69.3 in 2014 to 68.1 in 2015.
The data need to be interpreted with a little circumspection: it’s very hard to compare this year with past years and seek to extrapolate any future trend. We’re seeing quite significant changes in patterns and practices of application and selection. For example, an ATAR is now not relevant to 50% of university applications; it’s really now only relevant in respect of current Year 12 applicants.
In addition an increasing proportion of both applications and offers now occur outside the VTAC framework and the traditional January “main round” of offers. This year VTAC conducted a pilot of direct applications, allowing someone to apply directly to an institution for a single approved course, rather than through VTAC. In fact, VTAC actually accounts for somewhat less than 50% of offers these days.
So, on the face of it, there has been a marked decline, for example in “non year” (that is, mature age) applicants of 9% (and one assumes offers). Regional applications are down 10%. It might be surmised that this reflects concerns about prospective fee increases and “$100,000 degrees”. It may well be in part , but more likely changes in application and offer processes are a bigger part of the explanation.
That average ATARs have declined (down to 68.1 from 68.1 in 2014) will excite chatter about “declining standards”. There’s a wealth of commentary on this – check out The Scan archive – but basically, why is that any sort of a surprise? The whole point of the reforms arising out of the Bradley Review process were to:
- increase higher education attainment in the general population
- increase higher participation by poorly represented population groups (low SES, regional, indigenous).
To the extent that you achieve one goal, all things being equal (for example, #2 isn’t achieved at the expense of some group) you also achieve the other. And the overall effect must be that, “on average”, a lower ATAR than had hitherto been necessary (or no ATAR at all) will get some more applicants into a university course than had previously been the case (though not into any university course at any university).
The Abbott government has expressly abandoned the former government’s participation and attainment targets and its proposed “deregulation” package remains (for the time being, at least) blocked in the Senate.
So we won’t really know the deep meaning of this year’s “main round” until the Commonwealth department publishes its “applications, offers and acceptances” report some time later this year.
And heaven knows what this portends for next year or those following. It depends very much on what finally emerges from the Senate.
Key facts and figures
The following information relates to VTAC applicants for undergraduate courses offered in 2014 by Victorian universities, TAFE institutes and private colleges.
Figures in brackets show changes from last year.
• Total applicants: 76,648 (-2.2%)
• Domestic applicants: 74,358 (-2.2%)
– Year 12 applicants: 48,405 (+ 1.9%)
– Non Year applicants: 25,953 (-9%)
• International (Year 12 applicants): 2,290 (-1.5%)
• 69,337 total offers issued to date (-3.1%) comprising:
– 57,943 main round domestic offers issued (-1.1%)
– 9,624 early round domestic offers issued (-13.8%)
– 1,770 international Year 12 offers issued (-3.1%)
• 64,643 individual domestic applicants with at least one offer to date (-2.4%)
The following information relates to domestic applications and offers.
University applications and offers
(Domestic applications and offers only)
67,914 first preference applicants (-1.6%)
• Total offers issued to date: 56,945 (-3.0%)
– 48,559 main round offers (-0.9%)
– 8,386 early round offers (-13.4%)
• 54,510 applicants with a university offer to date (-2.3%)
TAFE applications and offers
• 5,340 first preference applicants (-6.2%)
• Total offers issued to date: 8,461 (-4.4%)
– 7,450 main round offers (-2.9%)
– 1,011 early round offers (-13.9%)
• 8,401 applicants with a TAFE offer to date (-3.9%)
Private college applications and offers
• 1,245 first preference applicants (-3.3%)
• Total offers issued to date: 2,161 (-1.3%)
– 1,934 main round offers (+2.2%)
– 227 early round offers (-23.6%)
• 2,156 applicants with a private college offer to date (-0.8%)
Graduate entry teaching (GET) courses
• 3,754 applications (-14.2%)
• 3,142 offers (-16.8%)
Follow link to tables
- First Preference Undergraduate Applicants
- Early and Main Round Offers
- Main round offers by the primary field of study
- Average ATAR of VCE applicants by the primary field of study of their main round offer