The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: Equity implications of non-ATAR pathways: Participation, academic outcomes, and student experience

Written by Dr Ian W Li1, Dr David R Carroll2, Professor Denise Jackson3

There have been expansionary policies aimed at widening participation in higher education
in developed countries worldwide. In Australia, increasing participation among
underrepresented groups is a national priority. This has led to the formation of six official
student equity groups whose access, participation, and outcomes in higher education have
been specifically targeted since 2008. More recently, the development of alternative entry
pathways has been encouraged to boost higher education enrolments among these equity
groups. There is, however, relatively scarce evidence on trends in admission to university
study through alternative pathways and on the comparative outcomes of students from
various pathways.
This study aimed to fill these policy gaps and addressed four research questions:
1. What are the proportions of students entering undergraduate study through
Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) and non-ATAR pathways in Australian
2. What are the proportions, numbers, and trends over time—by equity group status—of
those who access university education through non-ATAR and ATAR pathways?
3. How are equity students from non-ATAR pathways distributed across courses, and
are there observable trends and patterns?
4. Do student outcomes (retention, progression, student experience, academic
performance, work readiness) differ based on the type of entry pathway and equity
group status?

Read the full report at Equity implications of non-ATAR pathways: Participation, academic outcomes, and student experience 


1University of Western Australia

2Monash University

3Edith Cowan University