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Overview: Applying to Australian Universities

Coming to the Land Down Under may seem quite daunting as Australia is not often the first choice for prospective college students. However, the country has some of the world’s best ranked universities and an application process which is notoriously easy. To make sure Australia stays on your college app bucket list, here is a general overview and a few important terms to help you navigate through information on Australian uni websites!


The ATAR is a ranking given to all Australian students at the end of secondary education to compare achievement across the different education boards. Most courses will have a minimum ATAR requirement and guaranteed entrance into the course if that ATAR is met. International students do not receive an ATAR, however, conversions from IB scores to ATAR are released online each year.

Entry Requirements

For most courses, entry requirements can be found on the pages for each institution. Normally these will include a minimum ATAR (often include equivalent IB score), any prerequisite subjects and English qualifications. 

If you do not have citizenship from an English-speaking country, you may need to complete a recognised English language test, which could be from IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, or PTE Academic. 

For specific courses, there may be additional entry requirements such as interviews or aptitude tests including UCAT ANZ (medicine and dentistry), LAT (law for some universities), auditions (for music and performing arts courses) or written applications (e.g. for Bachelor of Education in some States). 

Application Process

Applying to the majority of universities (few exceptions) is done via Admission Centres depending on the State. These are UAC (ACT & New South Wales), QTAC (Queensland), VTAC (Victoria), SATAC (South Australian & Northern Territory) and TISC (Western Australia). Each admission centre will require payment of a small fee (around $50 AUD for timely applications) and will allow between 5 and 9 preferences for courses. 

Following the release of IB results, offers will be made in the order of the applicant’s preferences (e.g. an offer will be made for the highest preference for which the applicant is eligible). 

In the majority of cases, preferences can be changed after submitting the application, and applicants may have the opportunity to change preferences between offer rounds. For example, if an applicant received a higher than expected IB score, they may choose to apply for a more competitive course by putting it at the top of their preference list, or, alternatively, if an applicant did not meet minimum entry requirements they may choose to remove a course from their preferences and apply for more courses. 

Some Other Important Terms

HECS: Refers to a scheme available to Australian citizens where course fees are paid by the government on interest-free loans. Students then pay back these loans after their income meets a minimum threshold post-graduation. 

CSP: Commonwealth Supported Places, available for Australian or New Zealand Citizens, or Permanent Visa Holders. These are subsidised by the Australian government, meaning there are reduced fees. The majority of places for domestic applicants are commonwealth supported. 

Undergraduate: Refers to degrees (normally Bachelors) taken at universities after graduating high school. Typically 3-5 years. 

Postgraduate: Refers to degrees (normally Masters or further study) taken after completing an undergraduate degree. Masters degrees are typically 18-24 months. 

Diplomas: Typically refers to study programs that can be completed in one year. Depending on the course, diplomas might be able to be taken alongside a Bachelor’s degree (e.g. diploma in Languages) or independently. 

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