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Uni offers — first preference is not the only option

You’ve just received a university offer. Unfortunately, the offer is not from your top-choice uni, so doubt has crept in. But don’t despair — students who miss out on their first preference

can rest assured that high-demand universities (often a top choice) are not the only ones that can provide a top-quality educational experience and positive graduate outcomes.

The 2012 Good Universities Guide ratings show that there is no relationship between student demand for a university and the strength of its graduates’ outcomes, so your second (or third) preference may deliver just as strongly as your first. A number of universities that received lower student demand ratings excelled in the educational experience categories, earning five-star ratings for ‘Overall Satisfaction’, ‘Generic Skills’ and ‘Teaching Quality’.

While student demand may not have contributed to the University of Wollongong’s five-star educational experience ratings, the university’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Patterson, believes that campus atmosphere does have an impact.

“As far as ‘Overall Satisfaction’ is concerned, the university is of a size where students are still treated as individuals, and the ambience of the campus is also a major drawcard,” he said.

Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria — another top scorer for ‘Overall Satisfaction’ — suggests that a high-quality education is student-focused, socially inclusive and flexible.

“I think students rate us highly because of our personalised approach and the way we support all students to achieve their aspirations, regardless of their ATAR score or the path they took to get here,” said Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Shirley Leitch.

Edith Cowan University in Western Australia — which compensates for a one-star student demand rating with five-star ratings in all educational experience categories — suggests that industry-experienced and approachable staff are the key to a positive educational experience.

“At ECU, our students know that provided they work hard, they will be well supported by our staff and will reach their potential,” said ECU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry O. Cox.
Ratings also show that universities with lower student demand ratings can excel in producing positive employment outcomes for graduates. Queensland’s James Cook University, for example, boasts a five-star rating for ‘Getting a Full-time Job’, despite a three-star student demand rating.

JCU’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Cocklin, said that the efforts of the university’s careers and employment staff, who work closely with employers and provide every student with a career action plan, are more likely to result in graduate success than high entry requirements, which may be skewed by location and population.

“As our graduate outcomes show, those factors are no indication of the quality of teaching and graduates,” he said.

If you have doubts about your second-choice university, some research into their ratings may paint a more positive picture — check out our university ratings for more information.