What happens if I don't get into the course that I want at University?


What if you worked really hard for my HSC and didn’t get the marks that you needed to study the course that I wanted?


There are many options available for students who don’t get the marks they need to study their desired course at University.

  1. Bonus Points
  2. Different Universities
  3. Elite Athlete Entry
  4. Special Consideration
  5. Internal Course Transfer

Bonus Points
These are additional ATAR points that are sometimes awarded by Universities to students who have achieved certain awards or distinctions, or meet certain criteria. Universities such as UNSW offer bonus points to students who have completed a Duke of Edinburgh Award. Other bonus points may be offered by the state’s tertiary admissions centre for regional access schemes. Bonus points can be given for:

  • Performance in an HSC course relevant to a degree at a particular university, known as a subject bonus
  • Applying for consideration through Educational Access Schemes (EAS)
  • Living in or attending a school in an area defined by the university, known as a regional bonus
  • other achievements such as being school captain or an elite athlete or performer

Switching Universities
Almost every course in Australia, with a few notable exceptions, can be studied at more than one University. In fact, in many instances, pursuing a course at another university may be in the student’s best interests. For example, a law degree at the University of Sydney requires a 99.50 ATAR. Obviously this mark is unattainable for many students. However, a pathway into law at the University of Melbourne requires a minimum ATAR of 80.00, if one decides to study law by first studying a bachelor of arts. The University of Melbourne is also the nation’s top Law school. Students who are passionate about pursuing a course at University should be aware of all the options available to them.

The table below shows the rankings of universities within Australia according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject, and their global positions for those subjects next to them.

Elite Athlete Entry
Elite Athlete Programs exist in a number of various forms. Some Universities lower their ATAR expectations for elite athletes, on the basis of their sport training preventing them from studying for their end of year exams. Others give scholarships to elite athletes.

Special Consideration
Tertiary admissions centres and universities may offer special consideration to students who have experienced severe personal difficulty during their HSC year. For those who have genuinely suffered due to circumstances out of their control, special consideration schemes offer some level of leeway to students just below the ATAR minimums for certain courses.

Internal Transfer
It is not uncommon for students who narrowly miss out on the ATAR cutoff for their course to pursue a course at their chosen university which is similar to the one they want to ultimately study and then transfer after one year of study. For example, many students at USYD who don’t achieve a 99.50 to study law begin by studying arts, majoring in government, and transfer to arts/law after one year. This process is contingent upon the student achieving marks that are good enough to merit the transfer, but these marks are often far easier to achieve the required ATAR. Alternatively, students can study a similar course and pursue a postgraduate qualification instead. This is very common with students who wish to study medicine; they begin by studying Medical Science and transfer into postgraduate Doctor of Medicine.

I hope this helps!