A guide to the university admission process for parents

Student completing university admission

This university admission guide is for parents that are looking to help their child understand the admission and TAC process. Explore the guide here.

If you’re the proud parent of a Year 12 student, you’re probably riding the rollercoaster of stress right alongside them. It can be overwhelming for both of you and, while there are a lot of support systems in place for your child, little is offered to help you through the process.

One area in which you’re likely expected to support them is through the university admission process. University admission has changed since you were applying and it may seem complicated and confusing now, but it doesn’t have to be stressful.

With a little bit of prep, and help from our university admission process guide for parents, you’ll nix any of your own panic and help your teen get a place in the course they want.

Know your university application options

Your teenager may apply directly for their course through their chosen university, or through the relevant state’s tertiary admissions centre (TAC).

  • If they’re applying to study in the Northern Territory and South Australia, they’ll use SATAC
  • In Queensland, they’ll use QTAC
  • In Tasmania, they’ll apply directly to the University of Tasmania (including Australian Maritime College courses)
  • Courses in Victoria are applied for through VTAC
  • In Western Australia, they’ll apply through TISC
  • The NSW centre is UAC

Year 12 student with laptop

The tertiary admissions centres are central administrative bodies that let your teen apply to university, choose their preferred courses, receive their ATAR and make a decision based on the offers they receive. Think of it as a university admission one-stop shop where your teen can:

  • Apply for most university courses
  • List their course preferences
  • Receive offers for eligible courses
  • Apply for assistance and access schemes

For year 12 students, it may be mandatory to apply through TACs depending on their preferred course and study location. If you cannot find your teen’s preferred course on the corresponding TAC, they can apply directly with the institution as well as look for early entry programs.

Applying to multiple universities and through multiple TACs is totally fine – your teen can apply to as many courses as they like. However, each TAC application incurs a fee.

The admission process through the tertiary admissions centres can feel complex, but they give clear instructions and have people available to help if you and your teen get stuck.

How do university preferences work?

When your teen applies to university through the appropriate TAC, they can list multiple course preferences. It’s strongly recommended to list the courses in the order your teen would like to have considered, but if they can’t decide, it’s not the end of the world. They can also add, delete or change the order of their preferences at any time before offers are made, and between the offer rounds.

Once your student gets their Year 12 results, they will be offered university admission for their highest preferenced course for which they have met the eligibility criteria. A student can only receive one offer per round, regardless of whether they accept or not.

How do university offer rounds work?

TACs release offers as part of their scheduled offer rounds. Offer rounds happen throughout the year, however, your teen will only be considered for an offer after their year 12 results are released. Their application will be valid during the admissions period and they can change their preferences for courses starting later in the year. It is advisable to check the key dates and deadlines for the TAC your teen is applying through.

Most applicants will receive their offers once final exam results are released, in the December and January offer rounds, though some universities may make early offers to certain applicants.

Your teen’s course preferences are considered in the order in which they’ve listed them in their application. If they receive an offer to their first preference for an institution in one offer round, they won’t be considered for their lower preferences at that institution in later rounds.

However, they can change their preferences before the next offer round to be considered for a different course.

If they receive an offer to a lower preference in an offer round, they will still be considered for their higher preferences at an institution in later rounds – even if they accept the lower offer.

There is a small Change of Preference window between each offer round when your teen can rearrange their course preferences. It is a good idea to accept the offer received and move that course to lower preference or remove it from the list, as it won’t affect the offer. Your teen then should put the next most desired course as the first preference before the next offer round.

Applying for a course at Torrens University

Our online application process is quick and easy, with our Future Student Advisors on hand to support you and your teen throughout.

We believe that our students are more than just a number, so we don’t require an ATAR for university admission into most of our courses. If your teen has a recent secondary school education and an Australian Year 12 certificate, they will be considered for admission. We consider creative portfolios for entry into our Design and Creative Technology degrees and conduct student interviews for entry into other courses.

We also offer a wide variety of diploma courses that provide a pathway to bachelor's degrees. Diplomas can give your teenager a feel for university life without committing to a whole degree.

Get a conditional offer via our Early Entry Program

If your Year 12 student is confident about what they want to do, they can apply for our Early Entry Program. They can get in early to confirm a place with a conditional offer, giving them one less thing to worry about during the exam period. There’s no obligation to take up the offer and they can choose to defer it, so it’s a great way to get ahead.

Best of luck to your teen during this exciting time. If either of you have any questions or need help with the university admission process, you can contact our Future Student Advisors at any time.

Learn more about our Early Entry Program
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