A panel of experts has begun taking submissions on how to improve the transparency of higher education admissions as the Turnbull Government looks to ensure students have the information they need to make choices about their further studies.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said he has asked the Higher Education Standards Panel to canvas options to improve information about the accessibility and comparability of course entry pathways and to ensure students are ‘uni ready’.

Minister Birmingham said students need a clear understanding of what they need to get into their course of choice and what will be expected of them through their further study, while universities need to be held to account. 

“Some students are confused about university entry requirements, such as the ATAR and how that plays out with other adjustments for ‘bonus points’ and weightings for students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Minister Birmingham said. 

“Other feedback we often hear from students who change courses or leave altogether is that they picked the wrong course, or didn’t realise there were other ways to get into the course of their choice, or that they started a course with little understanding of its requirements,” Minister Birmingham said.

“What I want is to understand how we best achieve the transparency students need and want – is it through an online platform, greater accountability for institutions or better education around high school scores and the ATAR? 

“Transparent and comparable admission practices also help to make universities accountable for the standards they are setting in their institutions and across the higher education sector.
“The Higher Education Standards Panel will collate submissions from across the country and provide recommendations on how we can help students choose the most appropriate course and provider for their further education.”

Chair of the Higher Education Standards Panel Professor Peter Shergold said the Panel is committed to improving transparency for students in higher education and would consult widely on the best way to achieve that.

“Incoming university students have already had to work hard to get to where they are and the least universities can do is to offer simple, clear and comparable admissions policies,” Professor Shergold said.

“Students and their families need to be able to make fully-informed decisions about what is best for them – what is required to get into higher education and what support is provided to help them succeed.

“The Panel welcomes feedback and suggestions from students, from families, schools, career advisers and of course from higher education institutions on how transparency can be improved so students know what they need to do to get into their course and to succeed.”

The Higher Education Standards Panel has suggested key principles that will guide its consultation to improve transparency for students, including:
• The need for clearly articulated entry requirements;
• Consistently presented and comparable information on all entry pathways and requirements for each institution and discipline;
• Clarity around how ATARs are used and
• Accountability for providers’ public claims against their stated entry policies.

Minister Birmingham said that while universities determine their own admissions requirements, ultimately it is in everybody’s best interests that students know exactly what they need to do to be admitted to a course and to succeed.

“We want to see students get into their preferred courses and ultimately to be supported into the job of their dreams,” Minister Birmingham said.

Input into the Higher Education Standards Panel’s considerations should be submitted by Friday, 27 May 2016.

For more information visit https://www.education.gov.au/higher-education-standards-panel-hesp-0