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UAC FAQs: Answers to 12 Questions You Should Be Asking

Do you have questions about UAC? Read this guide for the answers.

If you’re applying for university in the coming year/s or if you have already applied to attend university next year, you will need to know about the UAC, the Universities Admissions Centre, and the process of applying to university and receiving offers for enrolment through the UAC. We’ve listed  answers to the 12 questions you should be asking about the UAC.

The 12 Questions About the UAC You Should Be Asking:

1. What is the UAC?

2. How do I apply for University through UAC?

3. What are offer rounds and how many rounds are there?

4. What are the key dates for 2016 course applications?

5. What are the 2016 course application deadlines and offer release dates?

6. What is the undergraduate selection process?

7. How do I accept my undergraduate offer?

8. What steps can I take if my ATAR isn’t high enough to get into my preferred course?

9. What should I do if I am going overseas?

10. What scholarships can I apply for through UAC?

11. What factors should I consider when changing course preferences?

12. How do I change my preferences between offer rounds?


1. What is the UAC?

The Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) processes applications for admissions to most undergraduate tertiary courses at participating universities located in NSW or the ACT.  The UAC also calculates and provides the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) to NSW HSC students, and processes applications for Educational Access Schemes, School Recommendation Schemes and some Equity Scholarships.1 Equity Scholarships assist financially disadvantaged students with the costs associated with tertiary education and may be funded by the Australian Government or individual institutions.


2. How do I Apply?

You will need to prepare the following when you apply for a university through the UAC:

  • Your 4-digit UAC PIN
  • Your Year 12 student number as issued to you by NESA (formerly BOSTES) or ACTBSSS (Year 12 ACT student)
  • Your UMAT candidate number (if relevant)
  • A list of the courses you wish to apply for (with their respective course codes)


3. What are Offer Rounds?

Undergraduate course enrolment offers for 2016 will be released by the UAC in a number of rounds from September 2015 to July 2016.

Early offer rounds – there are 6 offer rounds before the main round. Some universities make limited offers in these early rounds to applicants who are non-Year 12 applicants, 2015 Year 12 applicants selected on criteria other than their ATAR, and 2015 Year 12 applicants receiving offers as part of the Schools Recommendation Schemes.

Main round offers – most offers are made in this round.

February rounds – for courses with vacancies after the main round.

March – July rounds – for undergraduate courses that start in Semester 2.


4. What are the Key Dates for 2016 Course Applications?

05/08/15 (Wednesday)2016 UAC undergraduate applications open. Equity Scholarship applications open
30/09/15 (Wednesday)Deadline to apply for undergraduate courses to avoid higher processing charges*
16/12/15 (Wednesday)2015 NSW HSC results released by BOSTES
17/12/15 (Thursday)ATARs released on the UAC website from 9AM
18/12/15 (Friday)An ATAR Advice Notice (a hard copy of your ATAR and the units that counted towards it) will be mailed to you by UAC, from this date
06/01/15 (Wednesday)Equity Scholarship applications (including supporting documents) for main round close
20/01/16 (Wednesday)Main round university offers released at 6:00PM
21/01/16 (Thursday)Main round Equity Scholarship outcomes released
12/07/16 (Tuesday)Applications close for the final offer round, July Round 2

*You can still apply after the on-time application due date (30/09/15), but you will incur higher processing costs.

To be included in certain offer rounds, you must apply by the following dates. To check the closing dates for your desired course/s, please visit the Course Search page on the UAC website.


5. What are the 2016 Course Application Deadlines and Offer Release Dates?

Offer RoundApply and pay by midnight onDocuments to be received at UAC by 4:30pm on*Change preferences by midnight onOffers released on
Main Round04/12/15 (Friday)15/01/16 (Friday)06/01/16 (Wednesday)20/01/16 (Wednesday) at 6:00PM
February Round 127/01/16 (Wednesday)29/01/16 (Friday)27/01/16 (Wednesday)02/02/16 (Tuesday) at 6:00PM
February Round 203/02/16 (Wednesday)05/02/16 (Friday)06/02/16 (Saturday)09/02/16 (Tuesday) at 7:30AM

* Please note that most Year 12 students do not need to provide supporting documents. If you need to provide documents, this will be indicated in the application confirmation pack, which you will be asked to download when you complete your application through UAC.


6. What is the Undergraduate Course Enrolment Selection Process? 2

To be eligible for a place in your desired course, you must meet the admission requirements of the university offering the course, and entrance requirements of the course itself (the ATAR cut-off for the course). The ATAR cut-off is the minimum selection rank required for admission into a course. This is determined by the number of places available in the course, the number of applicants for the course and the quality of those applicants.

View the 2015 University ATAR cut-offs for popular undergraduate courses at USYD, UNSW, UTS and Macquarie University.

For most courses, you will be selected based on your ATAR, but there may be additional selection criteria you need to meet. It is advisable to check if your desired degree has any additional entry criteria by visiting the relevant university website.

Your preferences are considered in the order you have listed them in your online application form. If you are not selected for your first preference, you will be considered equally with other applicants for your second preference. Your chances of being selected into a course will not be decreased based on the order of the preference.


7. How do I Accept My Undergraduate Offer?

To accept your offer login to ‘Check your offers’ on the UAC website. You will be given a link to accept your offer or given further information on how to accept it. Accept your offer by the date specified to ensure you do not lose your offer. If you do not receive a main round offer, you will be sent an email from the UAC. This email will advise you to log into ‘Check & Change’ on the UAC website. From there, you can view why you have been unsuccessful for each of your preferences.


8. What Steps Can I Take If My ATAR Isn’t High Enough to get Into My Preferred Course?

If your ATAR doesn’t meet the cut-off requirement for your preferred course, you may still be able to get in through bonus point schemes, internal transfers, and other options.

Bonus Point Schemes

Most universities in NSW have schemes that offer subject bonus points and regional bonus points. Subject bonus points are given in recognition of your performance in Year 12 subjects that are relevant to the course/s you have applied to. Regional bonus points are given if you live in or attend school in a designated area. The maximum number of bonus points you may be able to receive will vary based on the relevant university bonus scheme.

It’s important to note that bonus points do not change your ATAR, but they do change your selection rank for a particular course or university. If you are awarded bonus points, your selection rank will be your ATAR + bonus points. If you are not awarded bonus points, your selection rank is your ATAR. Therefore, you may still receive an offer to a course even if your ATAR is below the cut-off, provided your selection rank exceeds the cut-off.

Here’s an example of how the UNSW HSC Plus Bonus Points Scheme may work:

Emily was a 2014 Year 12 student at St George Girls High School, who scored an ATAR of 93. Her first preference was for Commerce at the University of New South Wales, which had a 2015 ATAR cut-off of 97. Emily was still able to be considered for this course with the help of the UNSW Bonus Points Scheme.

Under the UNSW HSC Plus Bonus Points Scheme, if you perform well in the HSC subjects that are relevant to your desired UNSW degree, you may be awarded up to 5 bonus points.

Based on the table below, which shows Emily’s performance in the HSC, and the diagram, which shows how bonus points are allocated based on performance bands, Emily received 5 bonus points.

She received1 bonus point for English ADV, 2 bonus points for Maths ADV and 2 bonus points for Maths Ext. 2, giving her a total of 5 bonus points. Even if she had achieved Band 6 in English ADV instead of Band 4 and thus should be awarded 6 bonus points, she would only have received the maximum of 5 bonus points. This raises her selection rank to 98, and she would likely have received an offer into the UNSW Commerce degree program, as the 2015 cut-off was 97.

Emily’s HSC Performance:

Emily’s HSC Subjects
Emily’s Performance Bands
English ADVBand 4
Mathematics ADVBand 5
Mathematics Ext. 1Band E4
ChemistryBand 4
PhysicsBand 4
BiologyBand 4

As long as you have a preference for a UNSW degree included in the HSC Plus Scheme and your performance in the relevant Year 12 subject/s is in the specific band/s, bonus points will be automatically added to your ATAR to increase your selection rank for that course preference.

Under the Macquarie University Rural Bonus Points Scheme, you are also eligible to receive Bonus Points if you live in a rural area. The number of bonus points you can receive is calculated based on your home address, so even if you are boarding in the city, you are still eligible to receive bonus points.

To check if you are eligible for bonus points, visit the following websites listed below:

Many institutions also offer Educational Access Scheme (EAS) bonus points to help students who have experienced long-term educational disadvantage. These can be used to make offers of admission by allocating bonus points or setting aside a number of places for EAS applicants. For further information on the EAS, please see the UAC 2015-16 EAS booklet.

Internal Transfer

An internal transfer is the process used to change from your current degree program to another within the same university. You may be accepted into your desired degree program in your second or subsequent years at university, by starting in a course with a lower ATAR cut-off and later completing an internal transfer to your preferred degree. The best choice is to start in a degree that is related to your preferred degree, as there may be similar subjects in which the credits from your first year of study may be transferred to your new degree. You may also wish to choose a degree in which you can attain the highest marks, as your performance in the first year will affect your ability to transfer.

Internal transfers are generally much easier than external transfers to a degree program at another university as if you meet the requirements (usually a distinction average), you will most likely be successful. ATAR results will be of lesser consideration. External transfers will consider your Year 12 marks as well as your first year university marks.

If you don’t receive an offer in the main round, you should consider changing your preferences so that you have degrees with lower ATAR cut-offs at the top of your preference list. This means you may be given an offer to this course in a later round offer, provided there are still spots remaining and your ATAR exceeds the cut-off. If you do not change your preferences, your original preferences are automatically considered in the same order in subsequent rounds.


9. What Should I do if I am Going Overseas?4

If you have access to a computer with internet and intend to access the UAC website whilst you are overseas, ensure that you bring:

  • Your UAC pin
  • Your Year 12 student number
  • Your UMAT candidate number (if relevant)
  • Information about the courses you wish to apply for.

You will need these if you wish to contact the UAC, use the ‘Check and Change’ feature, and view your offers, HSC results, and ATAR.

If you do not have access to a computer overseas or if you are unsure as to whether you will be able to access the UAC website, you can authorise someone to speak to the UAC on your behalf. To do so, you must complete the appropriate section in your application or submit a letter of authority to the UAC. To authorise someone to accept an offer on your behalf, you will need to contact the relevant university.


10. What Scholarships Can I Apply for Through the UAC?

You can apply for 2 types of Equity Scholarships through the UAC:

  • Institution Equity Scholarships (IES) funded by individual universities
  • Indigenous Commonwealth Scholarships funded by the Australian Government

These scholarships assist financially disadvantaged students with the costs associated with tertiary education. Applicants can submit one Equity Scholarship application during the admissions period at This application will be used to determine your eligibility for all available Equity Scholarships.

These scholarships will be awarded to applicants who best meet the eligibility requirements. To view the eligibility requirements, view the 2015-16 Equity Scholarships booklet.


11. What Factors Should I Consider When Changing Course Preferences?

You may want to change your preferences if you ended up with an ATAR that is higher or lower than you expected. To change your preferences, login to the Check and Change feature on the UAC website. You will need your UAC application number and UAC PIN to do so.

Before you do this, it’s important to remember several factors:

  • Be realistic: check the ATAR cut-off of your new course preferences to see if you have a realistic chance of gaining entry with your ATAR.  It’s always best to list your most preferred course at the top of the list as ATAR cut-offs change and your selection rank may change based on bonus points. If you don’t get into your first preference, your next preference will be considered, and so on.
  • Be informed: make sure the courses you add don’t have early application deadlines or additional selection requirements you are not able to meet. If you don’t have the necessary assumed knowledge, you may need to consider taking a bridging course before you start your degree.
  • Research: to be certain about your choices, look into the course structure, what the course covers, options available to you within the course (majors, research projects and internships), academic staff, and what graduates have to say.
  • Have contingency plans: pick several courses that you are confident you will get into and be prepared to be flexible as it’s difficult to predict course selection ranks.
  • Don’t choose a degree based on its ATAR cut-off: be wary of changing your preferences to a course with a higher ATAR cut-off just because you can. Consider picking a course that is in line with your interests, strengths, and ambitions.


12. How do I Change My Preferences Between Offer Rounds?

Universities consider your preferences according to the order in which you list them on the UAC online application form. You can only receive one offer per round, so updating your preferences after each round may give you multiple offers to choose from.

If you receive an offer to your first preference in one offer round, you won’t be considered for your lower preferences in subsequent rounds unless you change your preferences. To change your preferences, accept the offer to your first preference, log into Check & Change, remove your first preference and reorder your preferences or put in new preferences before the next offer round. If you receive an offer to a lower preference in an offer round, you will be considered for higher preferences in subsequent rounds.


  1. Universities Admissions Centre 2015, All About UAC for 2015, Universities Admissions Centre, Sydney, viewed 2 November 2015,
  2. Universities Admissions Centre 2015, Important dates for 2015-16 admissions, Universities Admissions Centre, Sydney, viewed 3 November 2015,
  3. Universities Admissions Centre 2015, Pathway courses, Universities Admissions Centre, viewed 2 November 2015,
  4. Universities Admissions Centre 2015, Authorising, Universities Admissions Centre, viewed 2 November 2015,

Written by Matrix Education

Matrix is Sydney's No.1 High School Tuition provider. Come read our blog regularly for study hacks, subject breakdowns, and all the other academic insights you need.


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