On Thursday morning the ANU announced that year 12 students expecting to graduate at the end of 2020 will be able to gain admittance to ANU next year based on their year 11 results. University Chancellor, the Hon Julie Bishop, stated that this decision was made in light of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, so that students “can focus on completing their studies, knowing that if their marks in year 11 meet our entry requirements, they can be admitted to one of the world’s best universities”.

In order for a student to be eligible for the early offer of admission, they need only apply before May 25th and finish their Year 12 qualification. Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt compares the approach to the early admission move which was trialled by the university last year. In 2019, early entry offers were based off of year 11 results and were subject to a specific ATAR score. Schmidt stated that “this year it’s the same system, just not contingent on ATAR”. ANU has made the move in an attempt to ease the uncertainty felt by students in their final year of secondary school in these times of unpredictability. If a student scores higher in Year 12 than in Year 11, then those results will be used, with the early admission plan performing as a safety net.

The disruption of the COVID-19 outbreak could disproportionately affect students from situations of social disadvantage, and it is the university’s opinion that this decision “will minimise the amplification of disadvantage caused by the pandemic”.

Early admission is based off of Year 11 results as well as co-curricular requirements, such as sports or volunteer work. The co-curricular threshold for admittance requires that a prospective ANU student be able to demonstrate three to seven key skills, such as community engagement or leadership. These service requirements have also been adjusted for students commencing study in 2021 so as to not encourage students to contravene social distancing regulations or government advice.

The predictive ATAR process which was first implemented in 2019 is reportedly more than 90% accurate. An ANU spokesperson explained that the university has “created a methodology for each state” in order to convert study scores from Year 11 to Year 12 subjects. Course entrance ranks, however, will not be adjusted and “will mirror the ATAR requirements currently published”. The early admission offer will also not extend to all courses, such as music or medicine, where other essential activities are required to gain entrance.

The Vice-Chancellor has affirmed that this approach has already proven its effectiveness in the past – “we know it works, it’s the simplest thing to do.” Schmidt also emphasised that students should continue studying as everything they learn in their final year will help them once they commence at ANU.  He has assured that the university will be working closely with students, ensuring that they will be “up to speed on all the subjects that they need”, and has considered the possibility of “bridging”, especially if they are underprepared for their subjects due to disruptions in their final year of school.

State governments and universities are yet to announce any official plans for Year 12 students of the Coronavirus pandemic. The ANU is one of the first tertiary institutions to present a plan for managing the disruption caused to Year 12 students. It is the Chancellor’s belief that “these unconditional offers can stand whatever final model the states determine in their respective education systems for year 12 results”.