A research project led by The University of Western Australia will compare the outcomes of ATAR and non-ATAR pathways to higher education for Australian students.
The project was one of 17 to receive a total of $540,000 funding, announced today, from the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education through its Research Grants Program. This year’s key research priorities focused on exploring equity issues with reference to the COVID-19 context.
Lead researcher Dr Ian Li, from UWA’s School of Population and Global Health, said much of the research and policy attention on improving higher education access, participation and outcomes had focused on disadvantaged school leavers and university entry pathways through an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank.
“While the most common pathway to university is through an ATAR, other pathways have developed over the years and are becoming increasingly used to gain entrance to university."Dr Ian Li
“What we’re aiming to do through our study is to look at those students who access higher education through a range of non-ATAR pathways,” Dr Li said.
‘We’ll be using national higher education data held by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment and Australian universities to look at trends and patterns of entry into university.
“We know that the pathways to university study by Australian students have changed over time.
“While the most common pathway to university is through an ATAR, other pathways have developed over the years and are becoming increasingly used to gain entrance to university.
“These alternative pathways have made university study more accessible and boosted higher education participation to a more diverse cohort.”
Dr Li said the researchers would examine trends and patterns of ATAR and non-ATAR pathways into university, the characteristics of students across both pathways and how these students perform academically.
“This will allow the sector to benchmark and monitor changes in equity group participation and outcomes in higher education via different entry pathways,” he said.
Based at Curtin University, the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education is a research and policy centre funded by the Federal Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
The centre provides national leadership in student equity in higher education, connecting research, policy and practice to improve higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people.