Tertiary Application Portals and Access Schemes

Tertiary study needs to be contemplated from year 10 when students have to select their courses for year 11 and 12.

Students must then decide if they want to aim for university entry, in which case they have to plan how to get an ATAR, an Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking. If you want to find out how that is calculated for each State or Territory, go here: Year 12 Certification and ATAR.

This is the tertiary application process for year 12

1. Get tertiary institutions application number from your school (August);

2. Online application portals open in August;

3. Register, enter course preferences based on projected ATAR scores, pay application fees;

4. Enter bonus point options – whether through the portal, if that is covered by your service centre or according to information from applicable institutions;

5. ATAR is published in December – change course preferences from your application account if applicable;

6. University offers are made in January.

Online Application Portals Open

University application portals open first or second week in August. The student should then have received an ATAR projection from their school that should enable them to aim for suitable courses in their application.


Undergraduate applications will for most universities go through an application portal. Check out the information below.

Bonus points or special entry

Applications from year 12 is made based on the ATAR and any bonus points. Note that some bonus points are applied automatically while for other access schemes you have to apply and be granted these bonus points. Any bonus points are added to the ATAR to achieve a higher admissions ranking.

Special entry can be by entry tests or other criteria relevant to the course applied for. Some Arts courses will consider portfolio submission entry with an interview.

Course prerequisites

Make sure you check course prerequisites early. Some universities will offer bridging courses for students but it is easier to plan well from year 10 to make sure you are not frustrated when you get to the application process in year 12.

Medicine and Law commonly have entrance exams in addition to course prerequisites.

International Baccalaureate and International students

The tertiary application centre in each state or territory as applicable will calculate an ATAR based on IB and international qualifications. Submit translated copies of certified secondary school qualifications.

Applicants for universities in ACT and NSW must head to the Universities Admission Centre, UAC. All applications are online.

UAC also provides the applications for the different bonus points schemes:
Schools Recommendation Schemes (SRS) consider a range of criteria other than, or in addition to, ATARs such as:

  • Year 11 studies
  • school’s rating of your abilities in areas of study
  • school’s rating of your aptitudes
  • Educational Access Schemes (EAS) application (if applicable)

Educational Access Schemes (EAS) help students who have experienced long-term disadvantage that has affected their study:

  • Disrupted schooling – DO1A, DO1B, DO1C, DO1D 1
  • Financial hardship – FO1A, FO1B, FO1C, FO1D 2
  • Home environment and responsibilities 4
  • Severe family disruption – H01A, H01B, H01C, H01D 4
  • Excessive family responsibilities – H03A, H03B, H03C 5
  • Abuse of applicant, parents or sisters/brothers – H04A 7
  • English language difficulty – LO1A, LO1B, LO1C 7
  • Personal illness/disability – PO1A 9
  • Refugee status – RO1A 10
  • School environment – SO1D 10
  • School environment – SO1C, SO1E, SO1R

Equity Scholarships (ES) help financially disadvantaged students:

Equity Scholarships are awarded to students from low socio-economic backgrounds, particularly those who receive Centrelink income support payments.

Undergraduate Schemes Defence

There are two types of Equity Scholarships:

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

Considerations for ES includes:

  • carer responsibilities
  • English language difficulty
  • financial hardship
  • Indigenous Australian
  • long-term medical condition/disability or ongoing effects of abuse
  • refugee status
  • regional or remote disadvantage
  • sole parent responsibilities.

UAC participating institutions:

Applicants for South Australian or Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory need to head to South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre, SATAC.

Bonus points and special entry

Institutions can add bonus points to your ATAR according to their own criteria. Check institutions and courses individually to find out how what you get bonus points for. These are added automatically if you are eligible and you don’t have to apply especially for them.

Special entry is an application program and usually involves the Special Tertiary Admissions Test, STAT.

SATAC participating institutions:

Students who want to apply to Queensland Universities and the other tertiary institutions in the list below need to head to the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre, QTAC.

QTAC also administers the Education Access Scheme, EAS. The EAS can be relevant to you in two ways:

If you have experienced adverse conditions of a kind covered by the rules, you can get bonus points that will be added to your ATAR and will give you a higher admissions ranking.

One of the EAS categories cover Financial Hardship. In that case, you may be eligible for financial support such as scholarships or bursaries.

You apply for the EAS when you complete your QTAC online application.

These are the EAS categories:

Financial Hardship
Home Environment and Responsibilities
English Language Difficulty
Personal Illness or Disability
Educational Disruption

Application through QTAC:

Application through QTAC: ACU AMC BOND CHC CQUNI Griffith College GU JCU logo QUT SAE QANTM SCU TAFE UQ UNE logo USQ USC

Applicants for the universities listed below need to head to the Tertiary Institutions service Centre, TISC.

You have to get information about alternative entry from the institutions as that is not handled by TISC. Alternative entry would then be handled by direct entry not the TISC portal.

Apply through TISC for these universities:

Applicants for admission to institutions listed below need to head to the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre, VTAC.

As part of your application, you can fill in Special Entrance Access Scheme, SEAC. The participating institutions will have regard to this information when processing your information. The following categories are available:

You use VTAC to apply to the following institutions:

Good personal values - The objective of education

If students want to apply to the University of Tasmania, other than for the Australian Maritime College, they have to go to the university website for direct entry.

The university has a bonus points scheme with the following categories (information taken from their website. Contact university for more information:

1. Schools in Regions of Socio-Educational Advantage stream

Students who studied in high schools in Tasmania, or elsewhere in Australia, which are in a postcode which has an Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) rating of below 1,000 will be awarded a reduction in “clearly in” ATAR for most* courses in accordance with Table 1:

ICSEA (based on postcode of student’s high school)Reduction in “clearly in” ATAR
<9505 points
950-9993 points

Table 1

ICSEA ratings for schools can be obtained from My School.

2. Language stream

The University’s Languages Bonus Scheme encourages students to strengthen their preparation for undergraduate studies by undertaking language subjects. Students who have gained a Satisfactory Achievement (SA) in at least one and up to three language subjects at pre-tertiary level will be awarded a reduction in “clearly in” ATAR for most* courses in accordance with Table 2:

Satisfactory Achievement (SA) in Language studied at pre-tertiary level in year 11 or 12Reduction in “clearly in” ATAR
3 Language SA pre-tertiary results5 points
2 Language SA pre-tertiary results4 points
1 Language SA pre-tertiary result2 points

3. Maximum available reductions in “clearly in” ATAR

The maximum reduction in a “clearly in” ATAR for the cumulative points available under both the Schools in Regions of Socio-Educational Advantage stream and the Language stream is 5 points.

4. Application date and courses excluded from the Bonus Points Scheme

* The policy will apply to all courses offered by the University of Tasmania from 1 August 2016 with the exception of MBBS (M3N and M3NC).


If Susan studied at Suburb High School (postcode of Suburb is 7980 which in a region with an ICSEA rating of 975) and she obtained SA in pre-tertiary Japanese and French she will be eligible for 5 bonus points as follows:

975 ICSEA rating for Suburb High School3 points
2 Language SA pre-tertiary results4 points
Total7 points
But maximum bonus points available is5 points

Susan achieved an ATAR of 62 when she left City College and wishes to apply to study a Bachelor of Education (Primary) [43B]. The Bachelor of Education which has a “clearly in ATAR” of 65. The 5 bonus points means Susan will be offered a place in the Bachelor of Education as her ATAR of 62 exceeds the adjusted “clearly in ATAR” for the Bachelor of Education (which will be reduced for her from 65 to 60 on account of the 5 bonus points she is eligible for).

Lise Copeland
Author: Lise Copeland

I like to write about current topics concerning young people, education and mental health. I developed this website to help other parents and it is used by several hundred people every week. I have two kids at University and one in high school. They have attended State, Catholic and Independent schools in three States and Territories as well as overseas, giving me lots of first hand experience of how different schools can contribute. Education: BA(Hons) with Philosophy, Latin and Ancient Greek languages and BA Law (LLB).

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