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Admissions Transparency Information Webinar - February 2018

Questions and Answers
20 February 2018

Department of Education and Training and TEQSA webinar

Q. Why has May been signalled as a deadline for phase two and how this will interact with 2019 course offering release timelines?

The May 2018 deadline was picked to align with Tertiary Admission Centres’ (TACs) publication timelines. Most of the TACs are finalising the input they require for publications by then. Whilst it may not be necessary for institutions to have new information on their websites by May we would expect whatever information is produced to support applications to study in 2019 would comply with the new format. If you would normally have this information on your website in July or August, then you would still proceed with that timeline but the information you would need to provide to TACs would need to be available much earlier than that.

Q. ATAR data provided for all students, does this include the ATAR equivalent post-secondary qualifications and work life experience or is this limited to recent school leavers?

ATAR data in the ATAR profile only relates to recent secondary education students who are made an offer based on or partly based on their ATAR. It’s only the recent secondary education group that the ATAR profile relates to. However, this could also include any mature age students who undertake senior secondary study at TAFE and are subsequently awarded an ATAR.

Q. Is the ATAR profile important to non-recent year 12 students?

The ATAR profile is only for offers made to recent secondary students admitted on the basis of ATAR alone or ATAR plus some other factors – e.g. interview, audition or portfolio assessment. Our understanding is that it would generally only be recent secondary students where ATAR would comprise the complete assessment of academic suitability for higher education study. For students who are applying to study who have been out of school for more than two years, other factors such as work experience, study attempted since leaving school or professional skills will start to take on more significance. Some institutions would already characterise those as ‘mature age’ or ‘non-school leaver’ applicants – equivalent to the new ‘work and life experience’ applicant grouping.

Q. How could a provider become a member of a TAC?

Contact the relevant TAC in your state to discuss your needs.

Q. How strict is TEQSA with the use of the new terminology, can we use the news term and in brackets use the old term?

To clarify, TEQSA is not concerned about the new terminology. It is the Implementation Working Group (IWG) that has gained agreement of the key sector organisations to adopt consistent use of common terms. TEQSA is looking at how that is being implemented. Having said that, in the interim, using the new terms alongside the old terms (in brackets), could be an option in some circumstances. However, it’s much cleaner to not use the old term in brackets. While people currently working in the sector know the old terms, we are actually talking about a new cohort each year; so they won’t necessarily be familiar with the previous terminology. A public glossary was provided in the phase two update to the implementation plan. Providers are encouraged to make that glossary available to information seekers.

Q. Can we get feedback from TEQSA on our institution’s website and what improvements we might need to make?

If you are following the implementation plan that is what is important. TEQSA does not have the capacity to give every institution a run down on what their website is and isn’t achieving. But if you have questions, please call/contact and ask and we’d be happy to discuss. If you have the implementation plan you have all the information necessary to see whether you’re doing it right or not. TEQSA is not holding providers to account in terms of our initial review, it’s really so that TEQSA can see the progress being made.

Q. Can you provide a couple of good practise examples?

TEQSA intends to publish good practice later in the year. At the moment there are not enough really good examples. TEQSA will look at the progress that’s been made after May because there isn’t much point TEQSA doing another review at this point until providers have had a chance to fully implement the plan. In the short-term TEQSA is providing advice on how to do things better but when it has had another chance to look at the 167 websites and found some good examples, TEQSA will look at publishing these later in the year. If anyone has a good example, feel free to send them to TEQSA. If we see any in the short term, TEQSA will be able to present these in the capital city workshops in March and April.

Q. Is there a mapping document of the categories on the Transparency applicant groupings to the department’s ‘basis of Admission’?

In broad terms, the admissions transparency applicant groupings are a direct translation of the department’s ‘basis of admission’ variable. Previously we used recent secondary, higher education, VET, mature age and ‘other’. The mature age category and ‘other’ has become ‘work and life experience’. Previous higher education and VET study remain the same. Until now, ‘recent secondary education’ has been disaggregated into two sub-groups – those admitted on the basis of ATAR and those without an ATAR in HEIMS. The new approach breaks the ATAR group down further into those admitted solely on the basis of ATAR and those admitted on the basis of ATAR plus some other factor - such as an interview, audition or a portfolio assessment. So the new groupings are very closely related.

Q. Will you be seeking feedback from new students on how they have found the information this year? In other words, has it been more complex or easier to understand?

All the TACs will be talking to students about how they are finding the information. Some limited market testing was undertaken with current and recent applicants based on the information published in phase one during 2017. The approach being taken was welcomed, especially the prospects for greater consistency in presentation and improved comparability between different courses and their entry requirements

Q. If they are new (2019) students, what basis of admission do they have?

In terms of the department’s basis of admission categories, the department will also be moving to these new categories. We will be moving from talking about mature age to talking about work and life experience and we will be looking at a three-way split of recent secondary education rather than the previous two-way split. So the department is adopting the same approach that the sector has committed to adopting. So, over time, we will all be speaking with one voice and one language.

Q. How are slip back offers (offers to a lower-level course) to other institutions or providers reported?

They don’t do slip back offers in Victoria, but when student profiles are prepared they are based on enrolments. Once people pass the census date, it’s not relevant if it’s a slip back offer or not, it’s whether or not somebody has enrolled in that course. The ATAR profile is for offers and the student profile is for enrolments. So if you didn’t make an offer to course ‘A’ but you made a slip back offer to course ‘B’, then based on ATAR, the ATAR information would go in course ‘B’, not in course ‘A’ because course ‘A’ didn’t make the offer.

Q. How will information be sourced for the new platform?

Where possible it’s intended to use existing data sources to deliver the platform in the required timeframe, particular for the first release. The department is working closely with Tertiary Admission Centres (TACs) to leverage information they already collect. With their updated editing systems they will be collecting information in the future that is compliant with the new requirements. It is intended that the information platform will utilise that information where possible to minimise the need for any additional new information from providers. While the precise details are still being worked through, we don’t at this stage anticipate there will be a call for new information from individual providers if they are already a member through a TAC and providing information through that mechanism. For those that aren’t members of TACs, we will need to work out a mechanism to get the information that’s needed but that’s still being worked through.

Q. Is there a grandfathering period for publications already in hard copy?  

For any publications that are in hard copy that are still current and relevant then you wouldn’t need to change those, but for any new information that’s published for 2019 admissions and beyond, it should be compliant with the new requirements.

Q. Are TACs relevant to foundation studies pathway programs?

In Victoria a number of institutions run admissions to pathway and foundation programs throughout the TAC. TACs in other states have differing approaches so you would need to talk to the most relevant TAC to find out.

Q. If slip back is on behalf of another institution and not your own does it still need to be reported by the offering institution?

If it’s a higher education course then yes. Data on all offers of admission to a course on the basis of ATAR should be included in the ATAR profile table, whether this was from a slip back offer or otherwise. The intent of the ATAR profile tables is to demonstrate what the institution is prepared to accept in terms of students coming through with an ATAR. If you’re making an offer to a student who has an ATAR of 65, regardless of what stage of the process it is your making the offer, then in the next reporting period that offer should be included in that ATAR profile because it demonstrating to future applicants what ATAR you were prepared to accept in the most recent application process.

Q. The project and terminology seems focused on universities and is difficult to use as a private provider especially with the majority of students studying online and overseas/offshore, is there assistance available for private providers?

You can certainly call TEQSA’s admission transparency team. If you’re a member of a TAC you could also talk to them about that. The admissions transparency agenda at this time only impacts information for domestic undergraduate students. If, for example, you’re an institution that only makes offers to overseas students or to postgraduate students then you are not impacted. It doesn’t mean you can’t adopt the approach but it’s not a requirement or expectation at this point in time.

Q. The department is currently undertaking a review of all student submission files and some of the information required in admissions transparency.

This relates to the HEIMS review. The review of HEIMS or the redevelopment of HEIMS is being conducted in full knowledge of the admissions transparency agenda and it’s certainly taking into account the information requirements for the information platform. It’s intended that information for the platform would be sourced where possible from TACs or HEIMS. So yes, they are looking to make sure the HEIMS data lines up with the data in the admissions information platform. One example of that would be around the recent secondary education basis of admission because at the moment in HEIMS we are only able to disaggregate recent secondary education into two groups, admitted on the basis of ATAR or not on the basis of ATAR. In the admissions transparency agenda there is a need to disaggregate it into three groups, ATAR alone, ATAR with something else like a portfolio assessment or audition or not on the basis of ATAR. These issues are being considered during the redevelopment of HEIMS.

Q. If an adjustment based on equity consideration is made to a course threshold and not to the individual students ATAR selection rank, how is this reported in the ATAR profiles?

In the ATAR profiles there are two columns offered, at a minimum it’s required that you include a profile of the raw unadjusted ATARs. If you want to you can also include a second column that has the selection ranks; with the selection rank including any adjustments that are made in response to equity, subject-specific, or other factors. If the approach your institution takes is to lower the threshold ATAR for some individual applicants or cohorts of applicants, the two columns may not be very different. If your institution adds positive adjustment factors (e.g. what up to now have been called ‘bonus points’), the ATAR and selection rank profiles may look quite different. But at a minimum there should be a column that has the raw unadjusted ATAR.