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Alternative entry

ATAR is not the only way to measure potential
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We offer a number of alternative pathways for domestic undergraduate applicants who wish to have additional factors taken into account alongside their academic results.

Most of our domestic students are accepted on the basis of their ATAR alone, but that's not the only way in.

You may be eligible for one of our alternative entry schemes, depending on your educational background, financial situation, and your motivation for choosing a particular course.

We offer a range of schemes that are open to both school leavers and mature-age students.

Alternative Entry Pathways

Early Offer Year 12 (E12)

The E12 scheme applies to domestic NSW students currently undertaking the Higher School Certificate (HSC) or International Baccalaureate (IB) who are from a financially disadvantaged background and/or are attending a government-identified 'low socioeconomic' high school.

Download the brochure to learn more or visit our E12 website.

If your application is successful, we’ll hold a place for you as long as you reach the E12 ATAR cut-off (which is lower than the standard ATAR), and the HSC subject requirements for your preferred course.

There are 69 courses you can apply for through E12. You’ll also receive a $5000 scholarship and an iPad.

Contact us for more details.

Future Leaders Scheme

This scheme offers Dux students and student captains of schools in NSW a guaranteed place at the University of Sydney based on academic achievement and a principal's nomination from their school.

All schools in NSW are eligible for the scheme.

To get an offer via the Future Leaders Scheme, you need to:

  • be nominated by your school principal by the due date (you cannot nominate yourself)
  • achieve an ATAR of 70 or above (or equivalent IB score), and
  • have your highest eligible UAC preference be one of the courses available to you under the scheme.

Due Dates

For school captains and dux students (announced by your school before the start of final exams), who are nominated before 30 September, you will receive notice of what courses you're likely to be eligible for under the Future Leaders Scheme based on a predicted ATAR provided by your school before you sit your HSC exams. 

Otherwise, for nominations received after 30 September, you will receive notice of what courses you will be eligible for under the Future Leaders Scheme based on your actual ATAR after ATAR release for ATAR recipients and after IB release for IB recipients. 

Advice for principals

To nominate a student for the Future Leaders Scheme, you apply online directly to the University. Details on how to apply will be sent to all NSW schools closer to the date of applications opening.

Even if your school has not had a Dux before, your school can still participate in the scheme by nominating a Dux for this year. 

The official school Dux is traditionally the student who has the highest academic achievement of the Year 12 cohort. It is up to the discretion of your school whether this is decided based on results obtained up until the commencement of final HSC exams, or based on ATAR/IB scores across the cohort.

Schools should not nominate students for the Future Leaders Scheme until status as Dux/School Captain has been finalised, as it is not possible to change the nomination after it has been submitted.

For answers to FAQs about the scheme, please login to the Future Leaders Scheme application portal. If you do not have a login, please contact 1800 SYD UNI (793 864) for assistance.

Advice for nominees

If you're nominated, we will let you know after ATAR/IB release what courses you can choose from, based on your ATAR/IB results. You will need to have applied through the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), and select at least one of the University of Sydney courses that you are eligible for as your first eligible preference.

You may also need to meet additional entry requirements if you're applying for a course that requires a portfolio, audition, personal statement, PQA/MMI or interview.

Next steps: 

  • Once the HSC/IB results are released, we'll send you confirmation about which courses you're eligible for. This list of courses will offer more opportunities than you would have had based on your ATAR alone.
  • You then choose your preferred option and place it as your first eligible preference.
  • Later, you will receive an offer of a place in the UAC main round offer in January.
  • You can change your preferences in a later round to any course you are eligible for through the scheme.
All undergraduate courses are available through the Future Leaders Scheme. A few courses such as the Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Dental Medicine double degree courses are not available as these are graduate entry. The full list of courses open to each nominee will be sent to them once ATARS are released.
Some courses will have a number of places reserved for Future Leaders applicants below the normal cut-off. If you apply for these courses, you must choose a back-up option selected from one of the courses that has unrestricted places available for Future Leaders Scheme in order to still be guaranteed a place at the University of Sydney. 

Flexible entry

Our Flexible Entry Scheme takes into consideration your performance in Higher School Certificate (HSC) or International Baccalaureate (IB) subjects that are relevant to your preferred degree.

It means you may still receive an offer for a course if you achieve an ATAR within five points of the minimum required.

Flexible entry is available for about 70 of our undergraduate courses. In most cases it's applied automatically if you're eligible.

For a few other courses, such as Media and Communications, Architecture or Engineering, a separate application is required. We're interested in hearing about your motivation for choosing the degree, as well as any extra work experience you may have, and your performance in particular subjects in Years 11 and 12. 

Find out if flexible entry is available for your preferred course, or contact us for more details.


The Broadway scheme targets domestic students who have experienced long-term disadvantage that has affected educational performance in Year 11 and/or Year 12 including from disrupted schooling, financial hardship, home or school environment, English language difficulty, personal illness or disability, or refugee status.

There are 600 places allocated every year and, much like flexible entry, it allows for entry into most courses with an ATAR that is five points below the published cutoff.

Excluded courses are the Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology (Advanced), Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and all combined medicine courses.

You get automatic entry into the scheme if you went to a high school that falls under the:

  • NSW Department of Education and Training Low Socio-economic Transitional Equity Funding Program
  • NSW Department of Education and Training Geographic Isolation Program
  • Australian Government National Partnership for Low Socio-economic Status School Communities Program.

Contact us for more details.

Cadigal Alternative Entry

As an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, you can apply through the Cadigal Alternative Entry program regardless of whether you are a Year 12 or non-Year-12 student.

The Cadigal program is both an entry pathway and a support program. It can help you gain entry to a course if you miss the ATAR cutoff, and also provide ongoing academic and personal support once you’re enrolled and studying. This is offered through the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme.

Successful applicants will be offered one of two pathways:

  1. Cadigal Alternative Entry: you can begin your preferred course in first or second semester and study full time or part time.
  2. Pemulwuy Pathway Entry: you will be enrolled in two subjects (determined by your faculty) and an Academic Skills unit, and will begin study in the first semester towards one of these degrees
    • Bachelor of Arts
    • Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences
    • Bachelor of Health Sciences.

If you’re offered a place through Cadigal or Pemulwuy, you’ll need to attend an Orientation and Academic Skills Workshop in February before the start of semester.

To learn more, contact us by email ( or phone 02 8627 8619.

If the course you’re interested in is offered by the Faculty of Health Sciences, refer to Yooroang Garang – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Support Centre at the Cumberland Campus.

How to apply

Cadigal applications for 2016 close 30 November 2015. 

To apply for entry through the Cadigal program, you will need to submit an application form (PDF 640KB) to our Student Support Services team once you have registered with UAC and applied for your course.

If you're a Health Sciences student, send the form to the Yooroang Garang Indigenous Support Unit team.

You also need to provide supporting documents, including proof of Aboriginality. This can be:

  • a copy of your birth records or genealogies verified by a suitable authority; or
  • a letter with a Common Seal signed by the chairperson of an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander incorporated organisation in the community on which you live or have previously lived

For more details read the University’s Confirmation of Aboriginality Policy 2015.

Mature-age entry

If you’re at least 21 years of age and meet certain other criteria, you may be able to get into uni through the mature-age entry scheme. If eligible, you will need to apply through the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC).

You are eligible to apply if you:

Our Centre for Continuing Education offers a University Preparation Program.

You are not eligible to apply for mature-age entry if you:

  • achieved an ATAR score of 70 or greater in the NSW Higher School Certificate or equivalent
  • completed a TAFE (or accredited private college) diploma or advanced diploma
  • have a tertiary record of one or more full-time years.

Contact us for more details, or download the Mature-age entry brochure. 

Elite Athletes and Performers Scheme

This is for applicants who can demonstrate they are elite athletes or performers, and have had training, competitive and/or practice commitments that significantly affected their academic results.

It may allow you to gain admission to a course with an ATAR of up to five points below the usual cutoff.


Elite Athletes and Performers Scheme applications have closed for the 2016 intake. All successful applicants will be considered for the Main Round Offers, which are released on 20 January 2016. 

To apply, you need to send a form and supporting documents to our Admissions Office, as well as submit your university application to the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC).

For more information, contact the Admissions Office, or download the scheme assessment criteria (PDF 28KB).

You may also be interested in joining the elite athlete program run by Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness.

Special Consideration for Admission

If you already have a record of tertiary study and have experienced some form of disadvantage during your secondary and/or tertiary studies, this entry scheme could be for you.

It allows you to explain how your academic results were negatively affected by circumstances beyond your control. This can be taken into account in determining your ranking for entry to a course.

Please note that this scheme does not apply to current HSC/IB students. HSC/IB students who have experienced or are experiencing some form of disadvantage should refer to our Broadway Scheme.


Special Consideration Scheme applications have closed for the 2016 intake. All successful applicants will be considered for the Main Round Offers, which are released on 20 January 2016. 

Rural entry

Through the rural entry scheme, we offer entry to Year 12 applicants from rural backgrounds who are appling for certain courses within the faculty of Veterinary Science.

If eligible, you may qualify for admission with an ATAR within five points of the normal minimum required for entry to that course.

Find out more by contacting the faculty.

Missed out on your preferred course?

If you don’t qualify for any of the schemes above, you can apply for a related course with a slightly lower ATAR cutoff and transfer into your preferred course with your first-year university results taken into account.

Another option is graduate entry. You could apply for a general undergraduate degree and combine it with a postgraduate qualification in your specific field of interest.

For advice, talk to a course coordinator or careers adviser.