The ANU is seeking to change the admissions criteria for prospective undergraduate students, in an attempt to lead the nation in making the university admissions process more efficient, inclusive and transparent.
The University has floated four possible models, listed in a recently released green paper. The university has outlined four proposals relating to how academic ability should be considered and four proposals relating to how co-curricular activities should be considered.
The ANU+ model is essentially the current system, with added co-curricular requirements. The ANU is concerned about the system’s lack of diversity and its history of disadvantaging low-SES students. According to the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, only four per cent of ANU students are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Improving how the admissions process influences diversity is one of the goals of the ANU and ANUSA.
The ANUSA vice-president, Eleanor Kay, told Woroni that ensuring diversity was a concern for the students’ association.
‘Diversity is important as it enhances our education, giving us opportunities to learn from other people with different life experiences to us. It’s also important as part of challenging historic injustices, and taking a stand as the national university against systemic oppression,’ Kay said.
Kay said that the ANU is leaning towards the so-called ‘National’ System. Under this model, the three highest ranked students at every high school in Australia would receive an offer.
Vacancies would then be filled using the ATAR+ system, which is closely resembles the present model.
Students will still have to meet the ANU’s co-curricular threshold in order to receive an offer.
The University like the simplicity of the ‘National’ system and are confident that it will improve diversity on campus.
Though there is another model which emphasises quotas and affirmative action, the University and ANUSA are concerned about its efficacy. Under this system, the ANU would reserve places for low-SES and Indigenous students.
‘If you put a student that doesn’t have the academic background in a degree there is significant strain on their mental health … it can be really detrimental to you as a person,’ Kay told an SRC meeting in May.
ANUSA won’t have to endorse a model until 5 September, when a vote will be taken.
Kay said she presently preferred the ‘National’ model. ‘I am interested in the National model for academic admissions. Students I have discussed it with have generally been positive towards it, with some caution…This is the feedback I will be taking back to the committee,’ she said.
ANUSA has a student representative on the working group proposing the changes, as well as the Coursework Awards and Admissions Committee (CAAC) and the University Education Committee (UEC).
ANUSA is currently seeking the advice of students through a survey which can be found on their website. ANUSA says it will take students’ feedback into account when deciding what changes need to be made and, ultimately, which model to endorse.
‘These changes have the potential to totally change the makeup of the student body and thus the student experience and the direction of the university,’ Kay said. ‘Students should care about how our campus could change in the future, and we should be given opportunities to explain how our identities and our experiences intersect with our education.’
The ANU is planning on implementing the new model in 2019, ready for first- year students in 2020.