Image Description: A woman sitting at a desk, staring intensely at her laptop while biting a pencil.

 

By Courtney Withers

 

A lot of our focus recently has been concerned with university education, and what the COVID-19 crisis means for current students; but where does this all leave Year 12 students who are wanting to apply for university next year?

 

Questions around whether there will be school exams, how ATARs will be calculated, whether there will only online learning, and if acceptance levels will be lowered, are all questions that are still up in the air.

 

There has been no official announcement from the School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) regarding the current situation for Year 12s, and if invigilated exams, WACE results, and ATARs will be changed or adjusted.

 

The WA Education Minister Dan Tehan made a statement on April 7th, stating that Year 12s will receive an ATAR rank, regardless of how that is determined, and Year 12 will be their final year of school.[1] Despite there being suggestions about a possible ‘Year 13’ for current Year 12 students, WA will be pushing on through with the current system.

 

Mr. Tehan also stated that the Government is currently working with universities to decide how an ATAR score will be determined in this unusual situation.

 

Despite there being no official statement from SCSA, UWA has made their first official announcement regarding where they stand on this issue.

 

The UWA Facebook page announced on April 3, that because this situation “is causing a lot of uncertainty for Year 12 students” currently, the University has decided to announce that they will be accepting three different forms of applications to UWA for commencement in 2021.

 

The first being, if everything still goes ahead, ATAR based entry. This is currently the standard entry into the majority of universities, and is calculated from 50% of school marks (including semester 1 and 2 exams), and 50% from final WACE exams.

 

The second way for school leavers to apply for acceptance is by their predicted ATAR, based off results from the end of Year 11. This predicted ATAR rank would substitute an actual ATAR score, if WACE exams and school exams are not able to be completed.

 

The final way for students to apply to UWA is through a Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT). The post stated that this test is for “18 and 19-year-old students who are taking insufficient ATAR-based subjects or are not taking ATAR, will be eligible to sit the STAT test and an interview”.

 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander also gave comments around admissions, via a University News article on the UWA website:

 

“In times of such uncertainty for school leavers it’s our responsibility to ensure our future students have some certainty that a pathway into higher education is available for them.

 

“This is particularly important should the current disruption continue into the second half of the year, further disrupting study.

 

“We’re pleased to announce that we will now be offering three different ways for current Year 12 school leavers in Australia to apply for admission to our main undergraduate degrees – the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Bachelor of Commerce, and Bachelor of Science for 2021 entry.

 

“We have made this change so that during this challenging time students and their families are provided with more certainty, support and options should they wish to pursue a UWA degree.”[2]

 

The update did state that the predicted ATAR level acceptance is not applicable for direct pathways to Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Podiatry.

 

Vice-Chancellor Professor den Hollander concluded by stating that the University’s hope is that their “response to this unprecedented situation assists the community”, as they continue to work to find a “safe pathway through this pandemic”.

 

The change of entry admissions to UWA for 2021 is an interesting adjustment, but one that will certainly set the minds of some Year 12s at ease.

 

As for the current students at UWA, I thought it would be interesting to hear some of their opinions on what the University is proposing.

 

UWA student Millie Muroi said that Year 12s definitely need as much support and reassurance as they can get, whilst adjusting to these “changing circumstances so fast”.

 

“My brother is currently in Year 12, and I know so much has been disrupted for him – from extracurriculars to classes and tests – so I think this is an apt move from the uni,”

 

UWA student Jeremy Hansen also agrees with the University’s decision to adjust the admissions entry and thinks it’s a smart move to make.

 

“As someone who tutors a number of ATAR students, I find this initiative from UWA admirable, as it has put all of my students minds at ease in regards to their future educational prospects”.

 

Adjusting to this strange time is always going to be hard, and adjustments are going to have to be implemented.

 

Year 12 students are in a much more stressful and unprecedented position than any beforehand, and I feel for them immensely.

 

I think the more we can do assure that these students can still finish their last year of school, apply, and get into university, the better.

 

The University stated that all the latest updates, regarding admissions and entry guidelines, can be found here bit.ly/2021-AdmissionPathways.

 

 

 

[1]See ABC article https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-07/year-12-students-to-graduate-with-atar-despite-coronavirus/12128854 for further information on Mr Tehan’s comments.

 

[2]Comments from Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander sourced from article: https://www.news.uwa.edu.au/2020040211954/new-pathway-aims-alleviate-concerns-year-12-atar-students

 

 

Courtney is also wondering if other important events like Leavers are still happening this year.

 

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.