The Australian National University has pledged to be the first Australian university to move away from Year 12 ATARs as the sole determinant for entry.
Celebrating the university's 70th birthday on Monday, Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt committed the ANU to "revamp the way it deals with student admissions and move away from judging students only on their year 12 ATAR results".
Professor Schmidt also announced a series of new initiatives to attract top undergraduates, a Union Court revitalisation worth $230 million, $20 million over five years to support early to mid-career researchers and moves to help ANU work more collaboratively with business and government.
The ANU has long been critical of ATAR entries being administered through state-based university admission centres. The university attracts more than half its students from interstate. Earlier this month the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced it would investigate admission centres in Western Australia and South Australia for favouring state-based universities, following a complaint from the ANU.
Professor Schmidt said the university would look beyond an ATAR score and recognise students' co-curriculum and community contributions when assessing their applications for a degree. Changes will be implemented from 2018 over the following six years.
"ANU will lead the country in changing the way that universities admit students. Students applying to ANU will be considered on the whole person, not just their ATAR score," Professor Schmidt said.
"All students applying to ANU will have co-curriculum and community contributions recognised. Our scholarship program will be national and take into account outstanding academic results, non-academic achievement and financial need.
"These changes will be implemented over the next couple of years, and will enable students applying to ANU to also apply for scholarships and accommodation, all at the same time."
Professor Schmidt said ANU would introduce start-up grants to attract high-potential early and mid-career researchers.
"These funds will also give these researchers the freedom to embark on their big ideas at the height of their creativity, free of the constraints of overly conservative grant funding," he said.
"This investment is really an investment in the long-term future of brilliant people and in the long-term future of this university."
He believed the ANU needed to work more collaboratively with business, industry and government.
To build on his vision, ANU is introducing a suite of courses and degrees on entrepreneurship catering to everyone from undergraduates to professionals, and will appoint a new Business and Industry Advisory Board to advise on how the university can improve its links with business.
Professor Schmidt announced Westpac chief executive officer Brian Hartzer had agreed to serve as chairman of the Business and Industry Advisory Board.
He announced a new award of Distinguished Educator to recognise the most outstanding teachers at the university.
The university would introduce a Post-Doctoral Fellowship program for Indigenous PhD graduates, designed to develop academic careers and strengthen and generate research on Indigenous issues.
The ANU would also work to address its gender imbalance in senior leadership roles with Professor Schmidt committing to a 50-50 hiring policy for senior jobs including Deans, Directors and Head of Schools, the University Executive and administrative executives.
"I am sorry to say that our university does not yet deliver equal outcomes for women and men. While considerably more than half of our students are now women, women still do not progress to the senior academic levels of the university at the same rate as their male counterparts."
"We want to be a university that is distinctive in its service of the nation and the world," he said.
"And we want to be a university that brings students from across the country, the region, the world, from all social backgrounds and all economic circumstances, and brings them together in a community of learning that gives them the grounding and confidence to change the world."