Getting into university

Whether you have attended university or not, application, admission, and enrolment can be confusing. To help parents, the University of Sydney runs a talk for parents at the annual Info Day held at the beginning of January and Open Day in late August.If you can’t get along these events, you'll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Students talking in Quadrangle

How are students selected for entry into Sydney University?

Generally your child will be considered for entry on the basis of high school results (either the HSC or another equivalent high school qualification). Students completing the NSW HSC receive a Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) that represents their ranking among all students in the State. In most courses the ATAR is used exclusively, however some courses also require applicants to complete a Special Tertiary Admission Test (STAT), or attend an audition or present a portfolio. These details are set out in the UAC Guide.

How can I help my child select the right course for them?

The essential aspect to consider during this difficult decision-making process is what your child enjoys and what interests them. It stands to reason that they will excel at that which they want to study. Applying for a course with a lower cut-off than the ATAR they achieved is not a waste of a ATAR.

The most important element in finding the right course for your child is research. The UAC Guide is an important tool at this time because it will provide you and your child with a comprehensive list of courses on offer from universities in NSW and the ACT. You will be able to look up past ATAR cut-offs, additional selection criteria, assumed knowledge and a course description for each degree.

You will also find information about the individual universities so you can help your child decide which institution might be right for them. If your child is at school then their school will give them assistance with the application process, which opens in late July when the UAC Guides and the application materials are delivered to schools. The UAC Guide is also available at newsagents at the same time for non-school applicants.

You should also visit open days at the various universities that are of interest to your child. This way, you and your child will be able to talk to staff and students at the university as well as get a feel for the campus. The University of Sydney Open Days are held annually on the last Saturday of August, and Info Day is held at the beginning of January.

It is important to consider the assumed knowledge and recommended studies of the courses your child is interested in. While the University of Sydney has no prerequisites, quite a large number of our courses have assumed knowledge. And of course, no decision is final. If they start a degree that is not right for them, there is usually the opportunity to apply for a transfer at the end of the first year of full-time study.

How do they apply?

Anyone who wants to study an undergraduate university course in NSW or the ACT must apply through the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC). If your child is at school then their school will give them assistance with the application process, which opens in late July when the UAC Guides and the application materials are delivered to schools. The UAC Guide book is also available at newsagents at the same time for non-school applicants.

What is assumed knowledge?

Assumed knowledge and recommended studies are listed in the UAC Guide for each degree offered by the University of Sydney. Assumed knowledge is what the University expects enrolled student to know or to have studied prior to beginning their course. Recommended studies are courses that may assist the student in their degree if they have previous knowledge of the subject area. Neither assumed knowledge nor recommended studies will affect a student's selection into their chosen course.

What ATAR rank will my child need to achieve to enter the University of Sydney?

We can’t tell exactly what the various ATAR cut-offs will be for the coming year, but we do publish the ATAR cut-offs for the last two years in the UAC Guide. These previous cut-offs are not an indication as to the worth or difficulty of a course. They are a reflection on the number and quality of applicants seeking admission to a course, taking into account the number of places available for the course. ATAR cut-offs may move up or down each year as these factors change.

What if they don’t get the marks to get into their first course choice?

They have options. Firstly, they should look at other course options, there are often other courses with lower entry marks that offer many similar study options. Secondly, they could consider applying for another course and then applying to transfer after a year. Be warned entry this way is still very competitive. More information on these options is available by calling the University’s Helpline on 1300 362 006.

What if my child is going to be away when the HSC results come out?

You should call our Helpline on 1300 362 006. It is important that you are able to get in contact with them in case they want to change some of their course choices.

Once they are accepted into a course, how will they enrol?

We will send them out the relevant information with their UAC offer. They must come to the University on the designated day or, if they are unable to make it, they can give someone (usually it’s the parents!) written authority to enrol on their behalf. This is called proxy enrollment.

Will they be able to defer?

If your child is applying on the basis of the current year's HSC (or equivalent), generally they can defer for one year. If they are not applying straight from school, they usually cannot defer. Information about defering is in the UAC Guide and will also be in the brochure that will be sent to your child with their offer from the University.

How much does it cost to go to university?

Domestic students

student walking

Most of the local students who study at the University of Sydney are Commonwealth supported. These students have most of the cost of their education paid by the government but must also contribute towards this cost themselves. Each student has a seven year full time period during which they can remain Commonwealth supported. This seven year period is called their 'learning entitlement'. Some courses are more expensive to teach than others, so the amount students contribute depends on the courses and subjects students choose to study. For undergraduate students, the costs range from around $4000 to around $8000 per year.Commonwealth supported students who are Australian citizens or holders of a Permanent Humanitarian Visa can choose to pay their contributions upfront or to obtain a HECS-HELP loan from the Commonwealth. A HECS-HELP loan is repaid through the tax system once the student is working and their income reaches a threshold (currently around $44,000). Students who choose to pay their student contribution upfront receive a 10 per cent discount. The student’s contribution is calculated twice a year (before each semester).

In additional to this there are living costs and other incidental costs associated with text books, equipment and field trips.

International students

Some courses are more expensive to teach than others, so the cost depends on the courses and subjects students choose to study.

As for all students, there are additional costs like accommodation and other incidental costs associated with text books, equipment and field trips.

My child is an international student

International students who have been studying in Australia still apply through UAC. Other international students apply directly to the University. For more information contact the International Student Office.

What scholarships are available?

The University of Sydney has greatly expanded the funds available to students through scholarships, loans, bursaries and financial assistance. The Government has also increased scholarship funding through its Commonwealth Learning Scholarships. For students who are interested in taking an exchange opportunity the Commonwealth has also set up a loans program to help out with expenses such as airfares and accommodation. More information is available from the Scholarships Office.