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6 Ways to Secure your Course Offer in a Competitive Year

6 Ways to Secure your Course Offer in a Competitive Year

September 24, 2020

How do you secure your course offer in the most competitive year yet? In an article published by the Sydney Morning Herald on 21st September 2020* the worries of many young Australians were confirmed: not only is the job market tougher than ever but the global pandemic has highlighted the competitiveness of the job market and the need for tertiary qualifications, causing a surge in university applications for February 2021.

The article explains that, confronted with the “weakest jobs market in memory”, more young people than usual are opting for higher education. The article states that, “Applications for higher education next year have surged as school leavers respond to the recession by signing up for more study”.

“UAC (Universities Admissions Centre), which processes applications for admission to tertiary courses, mostly in NSW and ACT, has received 21 per cent more applications from year 12 students wanting to attend a higher education institution in 2021 than at the same time a year ago.”

It’s clear that 2021 is shaping as a “competitive year” for higher education institution hopefuls. So how easily will you secure your course offer? Worringly, for school leavers, the article warns that “Under current policy settings, higher education institutions may turn away thousands of potential students as applications spike but the number of available places remains fixed. Many who miss out will likely end up on JobSeeker.”

So, how can you ensure that you secure your course offer – and your future? Before we get to our top tips – do you understand the difference between a conditional and unconditional offer?

A conditional offer is a provisional offer. It means your spot to your preferred higher education institution is being held aside for you but you still need to meet some further conditions before the offer is finalised. For example, your final exam results might not have been released yet before your final course offer materialises. Sometimes all you need to do is definitively accept the offer for it to become unconditional.

If you receive an unconditional offer it means you’ve already met the entry requirements, so the place is yours to lock in!

Here are our top 6 tips to help you secure your course offer:

1. Secure your course Offer by Applying Directly

If you apply directly you don’t need to set up a UAC account. You can go directly to your preferred higher education institution, college or university’s APPLY DIRECT page and fill out the application form. If you chose this way to apply you may receive a conditional offer to your course, pending your final results. Be sure to accept this offer as soon as you get it so that a place is kept aside for you. And if you have doubled your chances and also have a UAC account (see below) make sure that your highest preference is the same course as the one on your direct application.

2. Update your Course Preferences on UAC 

If you are applying through a centralised application portal, such as the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), make sure that your preferred course is listed as high as possible on your preferences list. The way it works is that the first preference on your list should be the course you’d most like to do. If you meet the admission criteria for this course, then that’s the one you will receive an offer for when the offers go out.  You can only receive one offer per round so make sure you have chosen with confidence – and that your first preference is realistic to your anticipated results to avoid a situation where you miss out.

3. Consider your Preferred Mode of Study

Think about whether you want to study online, face to face or a mix of the two modes, called a ‘blended learning’ mode. Of course, if this year has taught us anything it’s that you can’t anticipate what will happen but if you know you’ll definitely want to study face to face, then it’s perhaps a good idea to apply to an institution where the class sizes are small. That way, if there are still government restrictions on ‘mass gatherings’ in place, you’ll know that your preferred mode of study is still likely to be possible in smaller classes.

4. Remember that ATAR is Not the Only Criteria

A few institutions, like ICMS, look at factors other than ATAR when assessing a student’s suitability for a course.  At ICMS it’s understood that attitude and ambition will not always show up on a student’s ATAR and past academic results are not always a true gauge of academic potential and future career success. Entry into ICMS courses and degrees is based on your performance in specific individual HSC subjects related to the degree chosen. At ICMS your ATAR is not the main criteria for you to secure your course and be accepted.

5. Be an Individual

Your higher education institution, college or university application interview is an important way for you and your prospective institution to find out if you are right for each other. Due to the large volume of applicants you’ll find that many traditionally large universities are unable to meet all their prospective students personally, which means there is a greater possibility you won’t secure your course offer with them. However, at ICMS, we are a higher education institution with a smaller campus and dedicated team. This means we are able to offer prospective students the chance to shine as individuals. You can add weight to your application by attending a personal application interview at one of the ICMS campuses. It also provides an opportunity for you to ask questions and feel sure that your choice is right for you. Book Your Interview HERE

6. Have a Diploma as a Back-Up

If you aren’t sure that a three year bachelor degree is right for you or you’re uncertain whether you’ll meet the entry requirements, you should remember that a diploma from the Aspire Institute is essentially the first year of a bachelor degree. You could start your diploma and if you are enjoying your course you could use your credits as a stepping-stone to continue into the second year of a bachelor degree at ICMS. But if you are ready to hit the job market, then you’d graduate after just 8 months** with a great formal qualification.

The take-home for your cohort is this: the current economic downturn caused by the pandemic demands that if you’re hoping for future career success you will need to be more decisive and deliberate than those in previous years have had to. In what has already been a stressful year, you’ll need to focus on your goals, dig deep into your strengths and act to lock in your offer and secure your future.

Need Advice?

The ICMS team of Student Advisors have been in your position. They know what it’s like to be uncertain about the future and they understand the pressure to make the right choice. Call or email them if you have any questions:


* ref to SMH article

** Accelerated study mode four subjects per study period/trimester