There is a lot of pressure for Western Australian students to receive first class ATAR results in order to get into their chosen course at university. And with everything that has happened this year, there are no doubt many students who are understandably worried about whether or not they’ll be able to get into university in 2021 and beyond.

But what if you don’t receive the marks you were looking for?

We have good news and more good news.

The good news is that there are plenty of other options outside the traditional ATAR score, and universities in Perth are making a number of concessions for students who wish to attend university in 2021 and whose studies may have been affected by recent worldwide events.

Here’s the lowdown on what to do if you don’t get the ATAR score you were hoping for and why you shouldn’t worry just yet.

Whilst you’re at school, it can often feel like the only way to a fulfilling career is through a university degree, but there are MANY other options. These include:

  • More practical courses and career directions such as those offered at TAFE or through Apprenticeships
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Directly entering employment from school

But what if your heart is still set on a career that requires a university degree, and you had planned to come to live at St Thomas More College whilst you were studying?

St Thomas More College offers accommodation to 400 students studying at universities across Perth (as well as at bridging and similar programs, with the intention of then feeding into university). We are located across the road from the University of Western Australia with convenient access to the other Perth universities. Our students often come to live with us from rural Western Australia, as well as metro Perth when they’re looking to make friends, have an easy commute and have freedom whilst also having an array of support services such as free tutoring, sports and more.

The even better news is that there are a number of alternative pathways to university that you may not be aware of.


In 2020, many universities have provided new pathways for Year 12 students, who might be anxious and unsure about what would happen with ATAR this year and the associated disruptions to their leaning.

UWA is now offering three different pathways for current Year 12 leavers in Australia to apply for admission to their main undergraduate degrees – the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science for 2021 entry.

These pathways include the standard ATAR-based entry, as well as the option for students to apply for entry based on their predicted ATAR from the end of Year 11. Some students may still need to attend an interview to determine whether any additional support is required, and if actual Year 12 ATAR results are higher than the Year 11 predicted ATAR, students can update their application if they’d like to change course.

Some students will also have the opportunity to sit the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (details below).

Murdoch University is offering students the opportunity to enter university based on Year 11 predicted ATAR scores, along with their other enabling pathways.

Curtin University is also offering students the opportunity to enter university based on Year 11 predicted ATAR scores, along with their other pathways, which include portfolio entry, UniReady, enabling pathways and the STAT.

Notre Dame has always offered slightly different pathways, including their early offer program and ECU is also offering an early offer program to help offer certainty to current Year 12 students.

Further opportunities at the various universities are listed below.


The first of these are bridging courses. These are of varying lengths and feed directly into university following your studies.


If you have done well in most of your subjects but were let down by your marks in English, you can undertake a test called the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT) which has been developed by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) to assess competencies commonly considered important for success in tertiary study.

You can view further details about the STAT test here.


Some courses at Perth universities allow entry by porfolio. Often this entails submitting a written personal statement, as well as evidence of any work and life experience you might have, accompanied by details of any other qualifications or education.

Some of the courses that may offer portfolio entry include a Bachelor of Design, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Agribusiness, and more.

To find out more about portfolio entry, search by university + portfolio entry.


Just as UWA offers direct entry partner programs through Taylors and Canning Colleges, so do many of the other universities. Partner programs exist through institutions including Phoenix Academy, Perth International College of English and TAFE International WA.


So, if you take one thing away from this article, it’s that entry to university is not solely through ATAR, and that if your marks aren’t quite what you had hoped for, there are plenty of options for entry into the course you choose.

And whilst you’re studying at university, it’s incredibly important to ensure you receive the academic, social and emotional support that will help you thrive.

St Thomas More College offers 400 rooms and apartments for full-time university students in WA, and offers room eligbility to students who are also studying one of the bridging or TAFE courses with a view to receive entry into university.

With group academic programs, free academic tutoring and a number of different study spaces, it provides the perfect environment for university students to succeed in their studies.

St Thomas More College also provides a number of programs for students to get ahead, with 1:1 Career Mentoring with Alumni in their chosen field, a range of leadership opportunities and workshops, student mentors and first-class facilities.

Applications are now open next year.

Interested in finding out more?