UAC: ATARs fall as university offers are released to 44,000 students

Victoria Xu, who has received a double scholarship for UNSW, picked electrical engineering over medicine. Photo: James Brickwood.As it happened: offers released to 44,000 hopeful studentsInteractive: Check the ATAR cut-off for your course


University entrance standards are slipping as minimum ATAR requirements drop across the state, a six-year analysis of university admissions data has revealed.

The data comes as former NSW high school students put two months of nerves to rest on Wednesday night, after more than 40,000 received offers to study at the state’s universities.

“Everyone in our family is running in,” said twins Keshaven and Shankaran Kiritharan after they found out while playing golf that they had been accepted to Western Sydney University.

“We checked the app and we got in, we’re pretty happy,” said 18-year-old Keshaven.

Engineering, business and science courses remained the most popular choices for school leavers looking to secure employment after graduation, but a Fairfax Media analysis of University Admissions Centre data since 2010 reveals the majority of disciplines have lower ATAR cut-offs than they did six years ago, despite rising 0.46 points overall in the past year.

An ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) is a mark up to 99.95 that a NSW student receives after completing their HSC.

Only one university bucked the overall downward trend this year by a large margin, with 17 Western Sydney University courses rising by 10 points or more. Six bachelor of engineering courses at the university jumped 13 points each to 83.

Across the six-year period, engineering in all its forms has remained stable, one of the key attractions for future UNSW electrical engineering student Victoria Xu. 

“It is just kind of ingrained, ‘the women shouldn’t be in engineering’ mentality, they are just thinking about field work in hard hats,” she said.

“I think in the end I just thought about why would I go into being a doctor, I just wanted to do something fun and rewarding – and that was engineering.”

The final numbers: Course cut offs

University of Sydney 

Bachelor of Combined Law 99.50   Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) 98.00 Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) 97.50  Bachelor of Science (Advanced Maths) 98.00  Bachelor of Applied Science(Physiotherapy) 99.00

University of New South Wales 

Bachelor of Combined Law 99.70  Bachelor of Architectural Studies 95.60  Bachelor of Commerce (International) 97.50  Bachelor of Engineering (H)/B Commerce 96.50  Bachelor of Science (Adv Maths) (Hons) 95.00

University of Technology 

Bachelor of Advanced Science (Adv Mat & Data Sci) 99.95   Bachelor of Communications (MediaArts&Prod) Bachelor of Laws 97.55 Bachelor of Engineering (H) Civil & Environmental DEP 90.80

An earlier version of this story overstated the 2010-16 fall in ATAR cut-off for communications, creative and performing arts, and architecture and design by one point. These figures have been corrected. The story has also been amended to clarify that figures on the largest falls among Group of Eight universities refer to fields of study, not specific courses.