The hardest uni courses to get into

Everybody knows a student needs top marks to get into medical school but there are also some surprising degrees that are equally exclusive.

Bachelors of midwifery and nursing, physiotherapy, law, dietetics, advanced computing, environment, optometry, dental science and veterinary science all required an ATAR 99 at one or more Australian universities — equal to that of most medicine degrees.

At some universities, provided the student passed their Undergraduate Medical Admissions Test (UMAT) and there were spaces, the ATAR cut-off for medicine was as low as 90.

The Good Universities Guide editor Joanna Schwarz said ATAR cut-off scores varied year on year.

“Cut-off scores chop and change depending on course and institution demand,” she said.

“Students may find that a course requires a different cut-off depending on the institution, its specific campus or location, or its popularity in a given year.”

At Flinders University, for example, there were 28 degrees that cut off at 90 or higher this year including the environment combination degree (99.95), disability and developmental education (90.8) and speech pathology (90.25).

Other bachelors in this range across Australia included ancient history at Macquarie University (92), journalism at Queensland University of Technology (92), advanced arts at The University of Adelaide (95.1), film and television at Swinburne University Hawthorn (92.55), and actuarial studies at University of New South Wales (97).

Ms Schwarz said ATARs were not the be all and end all for school leavers, though. There were lots of alternative entry options for students who didn’t achieve the score they expected.

“A popular path way is studying in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, where a student may complete a lower-level qualification such as a diploma with the intention to progress to a degree,” she said.

“Course transfers, which see a student commence their studies at a lower-demand institution then transfer to another institution down the track, provide another opportunity. To apply for a course transfer, students need to complete a year in their course before attempting to move to their first-choice institution.”

“And for those happy to stay on at uni a little longer (students) can get started in a generalist degree then pursue a specialised field at postgraduate level.”

TAFE student Gil Marconi is completing an Adult Tertiary Preparation Course with plans to enrol in the Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Midwifery at the University of Queensland next year, studying at Mater Clinical School.

She will need to achieve an ATAR 99.

“Because I come from Brazil, they don’t really accept my marks so I am proving to them my English is OK and my biology and maths,” she said.

“I was surprised because OP 1 (ATAR 99) is the same as the entry rank for medicine … but I also think it’s a good thing. It means I will be well educated to work alongside doctors.”

“Because this is what I really want to do in life, I quit my fulltime job to study to get the OP. I am putting all my time into this so hopefully it will pay off in the end.”

A UQ spokesperson said 42 per cent of offers made this year were to students transferring from another degree or other tertiary studies.

Discover more courses and their ATAR cut-off scores at


This article originally appeared on – Demand pushes up ATAR cut-offs, making surprising degrees as difficult to get into as medicine

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