Navigating University Applications

Pathways to accessing the degree of your dreams

There is a common misconception that your Higher School Certificate (HSC) marks are the only key to the university offer you most desire.


But, earning great HSC marks is not the only way to strengthen your university application. There are a number of paths you can use to gain entry to the degree, and university, of your choice:

  1. ATAR entry

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is a ranking scheme developed and used by the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) that is often used to determine your eligibility for a university course. Typically upon completing the Higher School Certificate in Year 12, and provided you have applied to receive an ATAR, you will be issued a ranking between 0.00 and 99.95. Universities generally require you to receive a minimum ATAR to be immediately issued with an offer of enrolment.

While this is the most common (and well known) path for you to apply to university, it is certainly not the only way you can apply to your dream degree. UAC enables you to apply for, and receive offers from, universities around Australia.

More on ATARs here.

2. Direct application


Instead of applying through UAC, you can opt to apply directly to the university and course of your choice. Universities will typically provide this option on their website using an “Apply Now” or “Enrol Now” button, which will then take you through a separate process for that particular course.

Factors other than your ATAR are often taken into account if you choose to apply directly. Additional credits that may help your application could be anything from leadership experience and community work, to a recommendation from a previous school or institution.

Interested in studying education to become a teacher? You can apply directly through the CUC thanks to a special partnership with CQUniversity: read more here.

3. University preparatory programs

Universities often provide bridging courses; a way forward if you don’t initially fulfil entry requirements (i.e. your ATAR is not high enough, or you lack the prerequisites) to begin coursework that will better prepare you for your future studies.

Universities vary in how they market these courses to you. Often phrasing that emphasises your transition into tertiary studies is used. For example, you’ll see words like bridging, pathways, or connect, or acronyms like STEPS within the names of these courses.

STEPS, the Skills for Tertiary Education Preparation Studies, operated by CQUniversity is one of the many universities who offer options for those who are needing to gain extra qualifications before commencing their undergraduate studies. More on STEPS here.

4. Seek support from us

Applying to study at university can be a daunting experience. Fortunately, there are many ways to apply to the degree of your choice.

When one door closes another door opens; take the opportunity to explore all of your university options so that you choose your dream degree.

If you want to talk through these options, the best thing you can do is drop by and see us.

Find a Centre near you.