The essential guide to getting in to uni through UAC (for parents)

UAC. It’s an acronym that many parents of Year 12 students in New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will have heard a lot. Whether from a teacher at your child’s school or from your own teenager, UAC tends to be on everyone’s lips during this school year. Here’s everything you need to know about getting into uni through UAC.

UAC is there to help your child apply for the university course that most ignites their passion. However, from the outside the UAC process can be a little intimidating.

What is UAC?

The term ‘UAC’ stands for the Universities Admissions Centre, a not-for-profit organisation that administers applications to study at participating universities, primarily located in NSW and the ACT. This centralised system allows your child to apply to university, choose their preferred courses, receive their ATAR and make a decision on where to attend based on the offers universities send them through UAC.

It’s pretty much a one-stop shop for your child’s university application. UAC allows your child to:

  • apply for university courses
  • list their preferences when it comes to courses
  • apply for different offer rounds
  • apply for assistance and access schemes.

Let’s take a look at these in a little more depth.

How preferences work

When your child applies to get into university through UAC, they can list up to five course preferences. While not strictly necessary, it’s a good idea to list preferences in the order your child would most like to be considered for. Your child can add, delete or change the order of their preferences at any time before offers are made using UAC’s Manage your application system. Each round of UAC offers has a preference closing date after which changes can’t be made.

Each course will have eligibility criteria. Once your child gets their Year 12 results (or before; see SRS below), they will be offered a place on the highest preference for which they have met the criteria. A student can only receive one offer per round.

How offer rounds work

UAC has a number of offer rounds throughout the year, and your child can apply at any time. Their application will remain valid throughout the admissions period and they can change their preferences for courses starting later in the year.

However, the key rounds for Year 12 students tend to be December Round 2, January Round 1 and January Round 2, because these rounds of offers occur after the ATARs are released. So this is when most Year 12 applicants receive their offers to study at university.

Earlier rounds of offers tend to be for early entry schemes, such as Schools Recommendation Schemes (SRS).

How SRS works

Schools Recommendation Schemes (SRS) are one way institutions make early offers of undergraduate admission, using criteria other than (or in addition to) the ATAR.

Not all institutions participate in SRS, but those that do – like Charles Sturt University – will assess an application on criteria including:

  • your child’s Year 11 studies
  • the school’s rating of your child’s abilities in areas of study
  • the school’s rating of your child’s personal aptitudes.

If your child receives an offer through SRS, it can be conditional (meaning they will need to meet certain benchmarks, such as an ATAR score) or unconditional (meaning they will have a place regardless of their ATAR performance).

The SRS application period typically runs from the start of August to the end of September. Check the Key dates section of the SRS page for the latest information.

An early entry offer via SRS can take a lot of the stress out of Year 12, so it’s definitely worth researching.

How other schemes work

Besides SRS, UAC also administers two other schemes:

The EAS take into account factors such as:

  • disrupted schooling
  • financial hardship
  • family disruption
  • illness and disability
  • refugee status
  • English language difficulty.

Participating institutions can award bonus ATAR points as a result, or may have a dedicated number of places reserved for EAS candidates.

The ES help financially disadvantaged students with the general costs associated with tertiary study. There are two types:

  • Institution Equity Scholarships (IES) funded by individual institutions
  • Indigenous Student Success Program (ISSP) Scholarships funded by the Australian Government for Indigenous students.

Your child can only receive an ES offer from an institution that has made them an offer of admission.

How the application process works

So now you’ve got an idea of what UAC does, how does your child actually get into uni through UAC?

First, they set up an account on the UAC website. NSW and ACT Year 12 students will need a four-digit UAC Personal Identification Number (PIN) to apply. The UAC PIN will be sent to your child in early August. They’ll need the UAC PIN and their Year 12 student number, issued by the NSW Education Standards Authority or ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies (ACTBSSS), to start their application.

After accessing the site with their student number and PIN, your child will be prompted to enter their personal details, such as name, address, email address and telephone number.

Then a nine-digit UAC application number is generated. Make sure your child keeps a record of this number, along with their UAC PIN, as they will need these to log in to their account and manage things like course preferences.

They list their chosen courses in order of preference. Your child only needs to do one application, not a separate one for each university they are interested in studying at.

They – or you! – will need to pay the application fee. This can be done via credit card, BPay or PayPal, or over the counter at Australia Post. Your child then submits a declaration that they have provided accurate information and the UAC application is done.

Don’t forget that your child can log in to their application at any time to update their preferences and check out communication from UAC. There’s even a UAC app so they can do this on their phone.

Your child will log on to the UAC website to check their ATAR score the day after the HSC results are released. This usually happens in mid-December. After that, there is some time to update their preference list in light of their results.

Most institutions make offers in the main December and January rounds, but there are many offers throughout the admissions period. When your child has received an offer of a place on a course that they want to accept, the university will send instructions to start the enrolment process.

Timing the application

Key dates for 2018 applications haven’t been released yet. You can check the Key dates section on the UAC site for the latest information so your child doesn’t miss out. However, as a general guide, bear these timings in mind.

  • Early August – UAC applications open
  • Late September – on-time applications close (applications made after this time will incur an additional fee)
  • Mid-December – HSC results and ATARs released
  • Early January – change of preferences for main round offers close
  • Mid-January – main round offers made

UAC helps your child apply to university – but they may need a little help from you to do it. This guide should stand you in good stead. UAC also has lots of different fact sheets to help you navigate the process.

What’s more, CSU runs a series of information evenings specifically for parents where you can chat face-to-face to find out everything you need to know for your child’s study journey – from application and finance to uni life and accommodation. Come and meet us!