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University Entrance in Australia – Information for International Students

Nov 22

Considering making the move to Australia for university? Australia offers world class universities and boarding school options for younger students.  So what do you need to know about university entrance in Australia? 

International Baccalaureate Vs ATAR 

For international students making direct applications to Australian universities, you’ll need your International Baccalaureate entrance score submitted directly to the universities of your choice.  For students coming to Australian prior to university entrance (high school students applying from “in country”) you may apply either under the IB certification or via Australia’s internal university application system – ATAR.   

ATAR is managed state by state through the tertiary admissions office and students can submit one ATAR score to their top choices of universities.  If their first preference is denied, they’ll be matched to their second, third and so on until they receive a university offer (or are encouraged to seek an alternative pathway through Australia’s Tech College system – TAFE). 

The Group of Eight – Elite Universities in Australia

Where it’s the “Ivy League” in the US or the Russel Group/G5 in the UK, Australia’s top ranked universities are known as the “Group of Eight”.  These are the most prestigious universities with the highest entry requirements.  While Australia offers this “certification”, the difference in educational standards between most prominent universities is minimal and the elite league may not be the right choice for you.  For example, in Queensland, while The University of Queensland, a member of the Group of Eight has the highest entry requirements, students flock to the state for access to the specialty courses at James Cook University (world leading marine biology program, based on the Great Barrier Reef) and Queensland University of Technology (world leader in the sciences).  So it pays to look at all your options rather than focusing simply on the Group of Eight. 

Pay to Play Universities

While international students make up a sizable proportion of Australia’s university placements, universities that offer no/low entry barriers do result in a less credible degree.  These are universities where you may simply pay to attend (a much higher price than other institutions). Australia offers several of these “private” universities for students who have failed to meet the standard entry criteria. 

University Entrance Preparation by State in Australia

While the Group of Eight Universities cover the major Australian capital cities, students may opt for specialist universities in the mining industry, environmental/reef science, agribusiness, infrastructure development or tourism.  These specialist universities tend to be outside of the major cities in Australia as they’re placed close to major environmental or infrastructure locations.  To see a complete list of major university locations and their entrance preparation tutors, click here. 

Capital City 

Group of Eight Institutions 

Tertiary Entrance Body 

University Prep  


University of Queensland  


Tutors Brisbane 


University of Western Australia 


Tutors Perth 


Monash University 

University of Melbourne 


Tutors Melbourne 


University of Sydney 

University of New South Wales 


Tutors Sydney 


Australian National University 


Tutors Canberra 


University of Adelaide 


Tutors Adelaide 

Parents: Should I send my child to a boarding school in Australia?

While boarding school education has been greatly disrupted over the 2020 – 2021 period, Australian boarding schools are offering full placement for school years beyond this time. Australia’s unique position of being “largely Covid free” means that Australia is a relatively safe choice for boarders.  The nation is opening its doors to foreign students after securing 80% full vaccination amongst the eligible population.  This means Australia is a safer choice.  By enrolling your child in a high school for their senior study (in Australia, this is years 11 and 12 – ages 16-18) you give your child the very best chance at securing a place in the Australian tertiary system.  The Australian Boarding Schools Association’s tutoring partnership helps parents to find a tutor for both academic purposes and adapting to life in Australian schools.