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Admission pathways

Your ATAR is not the only way to get into uni

From early entry, to adjustment factors (previously known as bonus points) there are many admission pathways into the University of Sydney.

What if I don't get the required ATAR?

If you haven't met the ATAR (or IB) requirement, don’t worry – there are other pathways available to gain entry into your dream course. 

Entry Schemes

Whether you experienced hardship in year 12, had commitments as a student leader, athlete, or performer, or experienced another disadvantage, we have a range of schemes which could guarantee early conditional entry, adjustment factors (previously known as 'bonus points') or further assistance to get you into uni.

The Early Offer Year 12 (E12) Scheme is aimed at domestic NSW high school students who have experienced financial disadvantage during their time at school while working towards their Higher School Certificate (HSC) or International Baccalaureate (IB). As a successful applicant, you’ll be guaranteed a place at the University, provided you meet the E12 ATAR (pdf, 60KB) (which is lower than the published ATAR) and any other additional admission requirements. If you successfully enrol under our E12 scheme, you will receive a $5950 scholarship.

Jared received an E12 Scholarship in 2015. “It has truly opened many doors for me looking back, including the confidence to pursue my personal and academic aspirations. The scholarship really helped ease financial burdens on me and my parents, and it makes the transition from high school to university so seamless. As an E12 student, I felt supported not just financially, but to have the assurance that the Uni believes in your potential."

Nimalan, who came to Sydney from a small rural town, agrees; “The E12 scholarship relieved the financial stress of studying whilst also trying to adjust to life in a new city with new people. It’s given me the chance to meet people who have similar interests and passions as me yet have completely unique backgrounds and have come from different walks of life.”

If you're dealing with financial hardship or residing in an area identified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as being in the lowest 30 percent of socio-economic disadvantage in Australia at the time of your UAC application, read more about our E12 for more information on how to apply. 

Academic or school leadership can also help guarantee you a place at the University of Sydney. The Future Leaders Scheme, open to Dux students and school captains in Australia, requires a principal’s nomination and an ATAR (or equivalent IB score) of at least 65 or above.

Josie, who was Dux and school captain at her high school, gained an offer through the Future Leaders scheme. “Future Leaders was one of the most amazing things that I stumbled across during my HSC. It allowed me to maintain my leadership commitments whilst granting entry into the course I’d been aiming for my entire school life. I cannot stress enough how much I recommend this scheme for all Duxes and school captains.”

Josie is also a Dalyell Scholar, which rewards high-achieving students with an ATAR of 98+ or equivalent, 95+ or equivalent if you are admitted through the Future Leaders Scheme, Broadway Scheme or E12, or 90+ for those who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Admission is by invitation or UAC preference, and gives you access to a specialised program, mentoring and professional skills development, and a $2000 global mobility scholarship.

Future Leaders Scheme nominations open in August 2019 and on time nominations close 30 September 2019. 

All schools in Australia are eligible for the scheme. To receive 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 at least 65 or above (or equivalent IB score)
  • place one of the courses available through this pathway as your highest eligible UAC preference, and
  • meet any additional admission requirements.

Due dates

For school captains and Dux students (announced by your school before the start of final exams), who are nominated before 30 September 2019, 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 2019 and prior to 5pm, 29 November 2019 (for 2020 admission), you will receive notice of what courses you will be eligible for under the Future Leaders Scheme based on your actual rank after the ATAR release for ATAR recipients, and after the 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 shortly after applications open.

Even if your school has not had a Dux before, it 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 achieved across the cohort, via nomination on behalf of the school, by the University of Sydney.

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.

Nominations for Dux students who are the highest ATAR/IB scorer will automatically be nominated by the University, on behalf of the school, if no nomination for a Dux is received by 5pm, 29 November 2019. 

If a confirmed Dux is nominated by a school prior to 5pm, 29 November 2019, the University will make no nomination on behalf of the school, and will at no point make nominations for school captains on behalf of any school.

For answers to frequently ask questions 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).

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 selected 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 admission requirements if you're applying for a course that requires mathematics prerequisites, subject prerequisites, portfolio, audition, personal/commitment statement, Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) and/or interview.

Next steps

  1. 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.
  2. You then choose your preferred option and place it as your highest eligible preference.
  3. Later, you will receive an offer of a place in the UAC main round offer in December.
  4. 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 with the exception of Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Dental Medicine double degree as these are graduate entry courses. Applicants will also need to meet any additional admission requirements for the course such as mathematics and subject prerequisites and/or interview requirements. 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 ATAR. 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 nominees in order to still be guaranteed a place at the University of Sydney.

The Cadigal Program is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Year 12 and post-high-school students. This is an access and support program designed to assist you with the transition into university life and provide additional academic, social and cultural support throughout your degree. It can also help you gain entry into a course with a lower minimum ATAR requirement.

Harry was accepted through the Cadigal Program and is studying a Bachelor of Social Work. He says that it not only allows entry to the University, “ ... but makes sure you get through. The help such as tutoring, and the onsite staff are always there for everyone and do everything they can to see students through uni. All the Aboriginal students are able to come together as a mob, as we should in our culture, bond and make great friendships, which is a big part of university life.”

How do I apply?

You will need to submit two separate applications:

All Cadigal applications require confirmation of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander identity documentation. (This can be a letter stamped with a common seal from your local land council, legal service, Aboriginal Medical Service, or other incorporated Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisation. Alternatively, you can provide a statutory declaration stating your identity).

Mathematics prerequisites

The University's mathematics prerequisite applies to students entering the Cadigal Program. Under the Cadigal Program, an Associate Dean may admit an applicant who has not achieved a Band 4 in HSC Mathematics, if they are satisfied that the student meets the standards by:

  • demonstrating the capacity to succeed in coursework at a university level
  • enrolling in and successfully completing an approved mathematics prerequisite course in their first year of enrolment or where required, in a subsequent attempt. 

Cadigal mature-age assessment

You are considered a mature-age student if you are 21 years or older (at 1 March of the year you would commence your university studies). 

Your Cadigal Program application will be assessed by admissions and, if eligible, you will be invited to sit an assessment. Your application for entry will be based on your:

  • assessment result
  • educational background
  • work and life experiences
  • motivation and goals, and interest in the course(s) selected.

Applications are now open. 

Students who have had sporting or performance commitments disrupt their study – training, competitions or practices – should review the assessment criteria (pdf, 106KB) for the Elite Athletes and Performers Scheme and may be considered for admission to a course with an ATAR of up to five points below the guaranteed ATAR. Plus, the Elite Athlete Program, run by Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness, can provide support throughout your degree if those commitments continue.

The Elite Athletes and Performers Scheme (pdf, 256KB) has closed for 2019 entry. 

Experiencing long-term disadvantage can create disruptions that affect study and academic results, but there are plenty of schemes that will help create a pathway to your dream degree.

The Broadway Scheme is targeted at domestic high school students who have experienced disrupted schooling and/or home environment, financial hardship, personal illness, disability, refugee status or English language difficulty in Year 11 and/or 12.

Duncan was offered a place in the Bachelor of Combined Law/Commerce via the Broadway Scheme. “A student's ATAR reflects not only their academic ability, but their circumstances throughout high school. I was fortunate enough to gain entry via the Broadway Scheme. I have constantly benefited from the vast array of support (both academically and socially) and opportunities provided to me.”

There are 600 places allocated each year, allowing entry into most courses (with the exception of all combined Medicine courses) with up to five points below the guaranteed ATAR. Applications for the Broadway Scheme are assessed via UAC's Educational Access Scheme (EAS).

You are automatically considered for 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.

Submit your EAS application via UAC by 30 September 2019 for consideration in December Round 2 offers.

Contact us for more details. 

Special Consideration for Admission Scheme is now closed. This scheme is for those students who already have a record of tertiary study but have experienced disadvantage that has negatively affected their secondary or tertiary studies. It allows those circumstances to be considered when gaining entry into a course.

If you’re a care-leaver, an asylum seeker or have experienced homelessness, the University is committed to supporting a pathway to your degree. Email admission.pathways@sydney.edu.au to discuss the pathways and support available.

Apply for a similar course with a lower ATAR

Follow your interests in a different way. Our shared pool of majors gives you the flexibility to study your desired major in a different course.

Browse all undergraduate majors

Apply to transfer after first year

Complete the first year of a related course with a lower ATAR then apply to transfer into your preferred course, with your first-year results taken into account.

Diploma or mature age student entry

Returning to study after some time off can be daunting but the Mature-age Entry Scheme can help you transition smoothly. If you’re 21 or older and don’t have an ATAR or equivalent, or a record of tertiary study, check the admission criteria (pdf, 460KB) for more information. Applications for 2019 entry have closed.

Mathematics prerequisites apply to all domestic students applying for 2020 entry on the basis of approved preparation programs under the Mature-age Entry Scheme.

Learn more about mathematics prerequisites.

Graduate entry

For some of our courses, you can apply for a graduate entry into postgraduate coursework, such as a master's degree, after you have completed your undergraduate degree.

Browse our postgraduate courses for specific course details.