Applying for Universities, TAFEs and Private Colleges

For most Australian states and territories, applications for courses at university and in some cases TAFE and private tertiary education or training institutions are made to and managed by a central tertiary admissions centre for the state or territory on behalf of the participating universities, TAFEs and private tertiary education providers. Applications are made directly to all other tertiary education and training institutions that are not covered by the central tertiary admissions centres.

Tertiary admissions processes are described in the table below and can be accessed by selecting the link.


The tertiary admissions centres are described in the table below and can be accessed by selecting the link.

Type of Institution Where to Apply
Universities or participating private tertiary education providers in New South Wales or ACT Apply to the Universities Admissions Centre UAC
TAFEs in New South Wales Apply to TAFE NSW
Universities, TAFE or participating private tertiary education providers in Queensland Apply to the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre QTAC
Universities or TAFE in South Australia or Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory Apply to the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre SATAC
Universities, higher education providers, TAFE or private tertiary education providers in Tasmania Apply directly to the university, TAFE or private tertiary education provider
Universities, TAFE or participating private tertiary education providers in Victoria Apply to the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre VTAC
Participating Universities in Western Australia Apply to the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre TISC
TAFE or private tertiary education providers in Western Australia Apply directly to the TAFE or private tertiary education provider

Some tertiary admissions centres produce hard copy booklets each year that replicate their website information and that explain application processes. They overview the courses offered by participating institutions, entry requirements, ATAR score indicators, prerequisite and assumed knowledge subjects, other entry requirements and more. Check with your school Career Practitioner to see if your school obtains copies of the tertiary admissions guides for your state or territory and other states and territories. There is a fee for processing the applications to tertiary admissions centres. On time applications for most Australian university courses commencing in Semester 1 the following year close on the last working day in September. Late applications will be accepted for most courses, however, an additional fee may be charged. There are mid-year enrolments for many at Australian tertiary education institutions. Applications for mid-year enrolment occurs in the same year that the course commences.

For highly competitive university courses (i.e., those courses with high ATAR scores and relatively few courses available in the country) such as physiotherapy or medicine, it may be advisable to consider applying for all or most courses available in you state or territory or indeed throughout Australia to enhance your chances of an offer of a place. You may wish to consider studying in New Zealand too.

Years 10 and 11 students who are planning to study at university in the future will also find it helpful to read the tertiary admission centre websites and guides to find out any prerequisite subjects and assumed knowledge for courses they are considering. This information will assist with planning senior secondary school subjects.

Working Out Order of Preference for Courses

Depending on the state or territory concerned, you can usually only apply for between 4 and 12 courses in that state or territory. When institutions make offers they assume that the first listed course is your most preferred. This means that applicants are likely to be offered a place in their first listed course if they:

  • Have completed all prerequisite subjects to the required standard.
  • Have an appropriate ATAR
  • Have met all other requirements.

Applicants who get an offer in their first listed course will not hear about any courses listed below their first preference.

For applicants who do not get a first round offer in their most preferred course, the next listed course will be considered and if all the entry requirements have been met and the ATAR is appropriate an offer in the second listed course will be made. Applicants who are offered a place in their second listed course will not be made an offer in any courses below that course. However, not everyone who is made an offer of a place in a course will take up that offer. Some may defer and some may change their mind. This means that institutions may make second and third round offers. Through second and third round offers applicants may be offered a place in a course that is higher in their list of preferences. However, applicants cannot guarantee getting a second or third round offer particularly for institutions in states and territories where there is a high demand for courses.

When deciding on order of course preference, a good strategy is:

  • First two preferences - courses you would love to do and are hopeful of being offered a place
  • Next two preferences - courses would love to do and are fairly confident of being offered a place
  • Other preferences - foot in the door courses - courses you would love to do and may help you to get to a target course. Pathway courses may courses may fall into this option.

Tips for working out course preferences

  • Compare the content of the units involved in the top two or three course preferences for at least the first year of each course.
  • Consider all the costs such as course fees or contribution to course fees, cost of accommodation.
  • Read about the course experience of students who have studied the course and whether the course will lead to a preferred career direction.
  • For courses that lead to professional occupations such as psychologist, accountant, lawyer, engineer, physiotherapist, nurse, occupational therapist, teacher etc. one of the most important considerations is whether the course is accredited by the relevant professional association. For example, the professional association for Occupational Therapist is Occupational Therapy Australia. The website of this organization lists all accredited entry level university courses for Occupational Therapists. Similarly, the Australian Psychological Society provides links to all accredited courses in Australia. This means that it does not matter where a particular entry-level course for a professional degree is studied. All courses that are accredited by a relevant professional association are equal in that they will enable graduates of such vocational degrees to practice at entry level. Accreditation and professional recognition information is usually outlined on course information web pages on university websites or on websites of professional associations.
  • Attend Open Days. Click for a list of Unviersity Open Days for the current year.