Universities have been forced to rethink their admission processes amid COVID lockdowns, but students have welcomed the emphasis on alternative entry pathways.
The release of the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) has been delayed to January 20 after the NSW Higher School Certificate final exams were also postponed due to school closures.
The University of Canberra has one of the earliest semester start dates in the country on February 7.
The University Admissions Centre (UAC) announced the first ATAR entry round would happen on January 26 which leaves a very short time for prospective UC students to receive an offer, decide to accept it and if necessary relocate to Canberra in time for the first week of class.
Deputy vice-chancellor academic Professor Geoff Crisp said the university had decided to have three rounds of the school recommendation scheme, instead of only one round, as well as an additional round of early offers based on year 11 results on January 13.
No matter what entry method they use, students will have guaranteed accommodation on campus if they're coming from interstate.
"It's a difficult time for everyone at the moment with the COVID lockdown, but of course, [there's] this additional stress of wondering whether you'll get into the course you want. We just want to make sure that we put their minds at ease as much as we can," Professor Crisp said.
At the Australian National University, classes start later on February 21 but the university has been working closely with UAC on a revised schedule so that students can get offers and start in time for semester 1.
ANU's deputy vice-chancellor (academic) Professor Grady Venville said the majority of applicants had already received offers as part of the university's direct entry process.
"Any student who has been given an offer and who finishes Year 12 will be able to study at ANU in 2022. Any student who has not yet received an offer to ANU should apply in the regular way through UAC," she said.
The ANU has issued 4561 early offers for 2022, which is down from 5341 offers given this time last year as travel restrictions and lockdowns impact on demand from interstate students.
"To all Year 12 students impacted by this delay, we say keep focused on completing your studies," Professor Venville said.
"We are proud and impressed that you are completing your senior secondary studies in the middle of a global pandemic. You should be proud too."
Year 12 student Rohan Jones, who is waiting to find out if he has been accepted to study psychological science at Southern Cross University, said the delay to the ATAR could put more pressure on students in their final term.
"There might be some feelings of regret for some people. There might be like, 'I could have tried harder'. And I think it's definitely adding a lot more stress for lots of students," he said.
Fynn Jammer is trying to decide whether he will take up an early offer from the University of Canberra to study business, innovation and entrepreneurship or take a gap year to explore Australia.
He said universities moving away from an ATAR score for entry was a positive step.
"I think is a very important skill to build a portfolio to show your creative works, to show who I am as a person as opposed to just a number that you then get an offer."
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