U

UAI (ATAR)

I remember back when I was in year 11 and 12 that the teachers at my school hounded into us to study and the importance of UAI (it changed to ATAR in 2009, a year after I finished year 12). This was hounded into us because our results affected the school’s results and how good they looked. It was also hounded into us because some of the students wanted to get into unis and get degrees which required high UAIs.

When I was in year 12 I knew that I wanted to work for a year before going to uni, that I wanted to go to UOW and that my acceptance into the degrees I wanted to study at UOW weren’t UAI dependent. Therefore getting a high UAI wasn’t important to me, which meant that I wasn’t as stressed during the HSC as most of my classmates.

I also knew that the UAI, like the ATAR now, is not an indicator of intelligence or ability but my rank against the other HSC students. This was another reason why I wasn’t stressed and is also the reason why I am against the whole system altogether. Yes I understand that universities need a system to establish a threshold on who deserves to get in or not, however considering the fact that after a few years it doesn’t matter anyway, I think a better and fairer system needs to be in place. My marks in my final HSC exams ranged from 67 to 78 and my UAI ended up at 55.1. Despite my decent marks, my UAI was low, most universities started accepting prospective students with UAIs of 70 and above. If I did the HSC a year later, my ATAR would have been 58+.

I was lucky that the admissions requirements for Creative Arts at UOW weren’t UAI dependent. For admissions, I was required to submit my HSC results, a portfolio of work and be interviewed by the lecturers. This was standard for all Creative Arts majors—artists would bring in their major works and musicians and performers would audition.

However this policy was changed a couple of years ago which disappoints me as admissions are purely dependent on ATAR now.  This not only disappoints me, but it also worries me. Creative Arts is different to other faculties as all artists—whether they are visual artists, musicians, performers or writers work in different ways and have different specialities. A rank against everyone else in a set of exams does not indicate an artist’s talents and abilities. If artists are judged on their rank and not on their talents and abilities and don’t get into uni because of it, their art will not be fully nurtured or developed.

I am graduating in two months after five years of study, over these five years my lecturers have never asked me what my UAI was and I’ve never given it a second thought.

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