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How to get into University regardless of your ATAR

Lets talk through the most frequently asked questions.
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ATAR – those little numbers that seem to have a big impact on the start of your university experience. Or do they? At first, it's easy to assume that without an ATAR, or without an ATAR that is sitting pretty at the higher end of the scale, you may not be able to study your dream degree and go on to work in a profession you’re passionate about. Thoughts start surfacing - ‘How am I going to get into uni with a bad ATAR?’ or ‘I didn’t get the ATAR I wanted, I’ll never have a career in (insert dream career here)’. Fear not, we will step you through how to get into uni without an ATAR ensuring you feel confident and excited that you can pursue your passion!

At UniSQ, we’ve been delivering renowned degrees for decades now and over the years have noticed a pattern in the queries that keep popping up from people starting their university journey. Lets talk through the most frequently asked questions. Don’t forget that our website is loaded with all the information you need, and we’ve got a dedicated team of staff waiting to take your call, respond to your email or message back on live chat.

First things first, what does ATAR even mean

Let's get the definition right before we start talking a lot about this 4 letter acronym that is spoken about a lot towards the end of high school. Our friends over at the Universities Admissions Centre define the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) as a number between 0.00 and 99.95 that shows a student’s position relative to all the students in their age group (I.e., all 16 to 20 year olds). So an ATAR of 60.00 means that you are 40 per-cent from the top of your age group. Universities use the ATAR score to help determine which students can enter into which degrees. Want to know more? We've put some information together to explain ATAR.

I know what ATAR means now, but can I get into uni without an ATAR?


The good news is at UniSQ we realise that your ability to succeed in a degree isn't dependent entirely upon the rank you received as a result of school work. Some of our degrees have other criteria when selecting students – depending on the degree you're aiming for, there may be portfolio work, interviews, performances etc and there are pathway programs available to those who do not have an ATAR, designed to be a stepping stone to your desired degree.

Whether you didn’t finish high school and therefore didn’t receive an ATAR (or equivalent) or you finished high school without an ATAR score, there are options for you to be able to start your university journey. Keep reading to find out the specifics but the answer is ‘YES’, absolutely, you can get into uni without an ATAR!

I’ve finished school. How am I meant to get an ATAR now.

You’re not alone with your questions – many students wonder how to get an ATAR after school. Lets say you want to become a Nurse and would like to study the Bachelor of Nursing. You notice the ATAR required to get into this degree is 65.60 and you didn’t finish year 12 or didn’t get this minimum ATAR.  

After making this realisation, this is the part where you don’t stress. You have options!

We would recommend you consider one of our many pathway programs, the Tertiary Preparation Pathway (TPP). This program (that takes 3-4 semesters to complete) will teach you how to write academic assignments and build your confidence for further studies. It is a free program that helps you develop all the skills you will need to successfully complete your university degree. Once completed the TPP guarantees you entry to a UniSQ undergraduate degree (as long as you meet the other necessary entry requirements). TPP is offered at all UniSQ campuses as well as online. Sound perfect? Get started now! UniSQ offers TPP during the summer holidays which means you will be able to get started on achieving your study dream and hang out with your friends in Semester 1, if you finish the TPP during this time!

If you’d rather talk through your options, we have a friendly team you can connect with. We can call you, or live chat, whatever suits, just reach out, contact us and we can talk you through it.

I am really disappointed with the ATAR I got

We often have students come to us worrying, exclaiming “I didn’t get the ATAR I wanted” and nervous that this number will dictate the direction of their study journey and future career. It's at this point we try and reassure that there are plenty of options to get into uni with a low ATAR, get your foot in the door, start your study journey and quickly work your way into the area of study that you're passionate about.  

One option (amongst many!) for you, if you’ve been wondering ‘what happens if I didn’t get the ATAR I need’ is to be begin studying a foundation diploma or associate degree, such as the Associate Degree of Business or Diploma of Science. This is a great option because you study the same first year subjects you would if you were completing the full bachelor degree. You can start studying courses that will count towards your dream degree right away because they have a lower ATAR requirement.

You might start asking yourself ‘Can I resit my ATAR’? We know sometimes it feels as though you just want to start again, but do not despair! Instead of considering the option of repeating Year 12, you can instead focus on your future using all the options there are at UniSQ, to help you work your way into your dream degree without feeling you need to go back to the drawing board.

What are my pathways to uni without an ATAR?

If you have your heart set on studying your dream degree, nothing should stand in your way. There are many pathways into uni without an ATAR that you can get started in, regardless of your ATAR.

The best bit? Entry requirements across any of these options do not include an ATAR – with some options the only entry requirement you need is to be over 18 and a minimum English language requirement. Below is a quick summary of the options. Follow the links for more info and don’t forget to speak to our friendly team if you need any more info at all.

UniPrep program 

If you’ve not reached your dream ATAR or didn’t do the subjects needed for your degree of choice and want to go to university, or if you’re unsure if your ATAR will get you into the UniSQ degree you want to study, then the UniPrep is a good choice. 

Designed for students in Year 11 and 12, successful completion of UniPrep will provide you with the English subject pre-requisite required for UniSQ degrees and ensure you are eligible to apply for a wide range of UniSQ undergraduate degrees. It's also a great introduction to study at university level and to see if uni is for you.

Tertiary Preparation Pathway

If you’re ready to start a new career, don’t have the relevant entry requirements for your chosen degree, has been a while since you studies or not completed year 12,UniSQ’s Tertiary Preparation Pathway (TPP) is your gateway to uni.

Diploma of Multidisciplinary Studies

At UniSQ, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to go to university, so UniSQ’s Diploma of Multidisciplinary Studies is open to everyone. The unique thing about this Diploma is it's an official university award qualification in its own right, and also provides a quality foundation for further tertiary study. Choose from one of eight specialisations, allowing you to sample a study area you are interested in.

Indigenous Higher Education Pathways Program (IHEPP)

Are you an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person and wanting to start your university journey? Indigenous Higher Education Pathways Program (IHEPP) is the perfect way to get started, where you will be supported in your study journey. It’s the ideal choice as a steppingstone to further university study, as successful completion of IHEPP means you can apply for a range of UniSQ undergraduate degrees.

Head Start

Head Start is designed for high-achieving senior school students (Year 10, 11 or 12) to study a university course while still in high school. The first course is free and successful completion of Head Start course and meeting all pre-requisites will make you eligible for an Early Offer into your degree of choice.

Undergraduate Certificates

Graduate with a university qualification after just four courses with a certificate or continue on to studying an undergraduate or Diploma degree.


Our Diplomas provide the ideal foundation for further study. They typically take one year of full-time study to complete. Courses you successfully complete in your Diploma can count towards Undergraduate degrees you choose to study:

So, what’s next for me?

After reading through this information, we hope you feel confident that your dream degree will not just remain a dream. At UniSQ, we are committed to ensuring you feel supported with your study journey, whether you’re joining us using the ATAR you had hoped for, an ATAR that isn't as high as you’d hoped, or without an ATAR at all. There are plenty of pathway options to get your learning journey started and don’t forget, if you'd like to talk to someone about your options today, you can contact us at or give us a call on 1800 269 500. 

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