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No ATAR required: Swinburne dumps ranking system for dozens of degrees

“For a while now, we’ve had options for every ATAR,” Swinburne said in announcing its early entry program on Monday. “We’re now taking it a step further, by adding an option that removes ATARs from the equation.”

Pro vice-chancellor Chris Pilgrim said year 12 students had faced a year like no other.

Offers for a university place will be made as early as August, four months before students’ Australian Tertiary Admission Rankings are due to be released.

The Morrison government and state and territory governments have already agreed that the ATAR will remain the primary entry pathway to university this year, despite the extended period of remote learning for students.

Swinburne’s move comes as universities face deep revenue downturns due to the near total suspension of international student arrivals in Australia.

Data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday revealed just 10 people entered Victoria on an international student visa in April, compared with 13,180 in April 2019.

Fees and charges to international students made up 30.8 per cent of Swinburne’s revenue in 2018.

Earlier this month, Swinburne’s vice-chancellor Linda Kristjanson told staff the university was considering redundancies in response to its deteriorating financial position.

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Staff have been told applications for voluntary redundancies will open next week. Professor Kristjanson said she could not rule out forced redundancies.

The university expects to record a $51 million deficit this year, and further deficits totalling $101 million in 2021 and 2022.

Higher education consultant Claire Field said a number of universities outside Victoria had announced similar non-ATAR pathways to enrolment in an attempt to lock in new students early in the enrolment process.

“There is a general sentiment from the universities that they do want to fill places next year, obviously having a full cohort of domestic students is important,” Ms Field said.

Domestic student places at Australian universities are capped under a Commonwealth grant scheme.

There have been calls to lift the cap to limit the reduce the financial damage universities are suffering from the heavy loss of international student revenue.

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