Are Secondary School Exiting Rankings (ATAR) the Best Indication of Success within a Design Based University Education?
Bruce Edward Watson

Entry from secondary school to Australia’s top eight universities; (Group of Eight - is traditionally based on a student’s abilities and academic performance as ranked by secondary school final examinations and assessments. Exiting secondary school students receive an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) and each degree program is correspondingly also ranked to that ATAR. Correlations between a student’s ATAR and the degree programs ATAR requirement primarily shape entry to Australian university programs. This paper will discuss initial research findings associated with an alternate admissions scheme. The alternate admission scheme at the University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia (UNSW) provides additional processes to identify abilities and aptitudes for tertiary study beyond the traditional ranking scores (ATAR). This alternate entry scheme was introduced in 2013 in the Faculty of Built Environment and assists students with University entry beyond the traditional ranking system. The scheme itself; supporting literature, its background and the schemes candidates current educational positioning within the degree will shape this paper. The outcomes of this scheme will be examined with a view to understanding how traditional university entrance methods versus alternate entry methods determine or not student progression academically in a design degree in a University context.

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