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For more than a decade there has been an ongoing debate around ATAR’s suitability and future, and in particular, its role in university admissions criteria. This debate is especially relevant today when more school leavers are failing to finish their university degree on-time (completion) or are dropping out of university entirely (attrition).

ATAR remains the dominant pathway to university for school leavers. Recent estimates show almost three-in-four school leavers use ATAR to gain university entry; 60% use solely ATAR, and 14% use ATAR in conjunction with other criteria. The share admitted on a non-ATAR basis has grown from 15% in 2016 to at least 25% today.

ATAR is significantly associated with completions and attrition; with each ascending ATAR band, completions rise and attrition fall. Low ATAR students (with scores of 0-60) drop out at rates about three times that of high ATAR students (80-100).

This paper looks at past research and recent data on ATAR with respect to university admissions, completions and attrition, with a particular focus on the growing category of students admitted on a non-ATAR basis.

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CIS Analysis Paper 44