University and college admissions
Detail information for College admissions.
University admission or college admissions is the process through which students enter tertiary education at
universities and colleges. Systems vary widely from country to country, and sometimes from institution to institution.
In many countries, prospective university students apply for admission during their last year of high school or
community college. In some countries, there are independent organizations or government agencies to centralize the
administration of standardized admission exams and the processing of applications.
Content you will find here:
New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
Austria, Switzerland, Belgium
College vs. university
Comparability of admissions
The application process
Factors affecting admission
As Australia uses a Federal system of government, responsibility for education, and admission to Technical and
Further Education colleges and undergraduate degrees at universities for domestic students, are in the
domain of state and territory government (see Education in Australia). All states except Tasmania have
centralized processing units for admission to undergraduate degrees for citizens of Australia and New Zealand, and
for Australian permanent residents; however applications for international and postgraduate students are usually
accepted by individual universities. The Australian government operates the Higher Education Contribution Scheme
for undergraduate students, so admission is rarely limited by prospective students' ability to pay up-front. All
states use a system that awards the recipient with an Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank, or ENTER, and the
award of an International Baccalaureate meets the minimum requirements for admission in every state. The Special
Tertiary Admissions Test is the standard test for non-school-leavers nationwide. In all cases, applicants must be
proficient in the English language to be considered and meet the course requirements listed by the admitting institution.
New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
The Universities Admission Centre accepts applications for all NSW and ACT tertiary institutions. Applications
usually consist of standardized test results, adherence to the university's selection criteria for the applicable
course, and a suitable application. The standard test for school-leavers is the Higher School Certificate in NSW,
and the Year 12 Certificate in the ACT, resulting in a University Admission Index score out of 100.
The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Queensland tertiary institutions. Year 12 students
are awarded an Overall Position, based on their performance in class subjects and their schools average result in the
Queensland Core Skills Test, as well as meeting course requirements.
The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for South Australian tertiary institutions.
Year 12 students are awarded the South Australian Certificate of Education, and must meet course requirements.
Tasmanian school leavers applying for entrance at the University of Tasmania need to apply directly to the university.
Tasmanian school students receive a Tertiary Entrance Rank on successful completion of the Tasmanian Certificate of
Education. Students from interstate wishing to study at UTas may apply through either the Victorian Tertiary Admissions
Centre, or directly through the University.
The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Victorian tertiary institutions. Applications
consist of standardized test results and meeting institutional requirements. The standard certification for
school-leavers is the Victorian Certificate of Education.
TThe Tertiary Institutions Service Centre accepts applications for Western Australian tertiary institutions. The
standardized test for school-leavers is the Tertiary Entrance Examination.
Austria, Switzerland, Belgium
These countries probably have the most liberal system of university admission anywhere in the world, since anyone who
has passed the Matura may enroll in any subject field (or even several at no additional cost) at a public university.
In Belgium as well, the only prerequisite for enrolling in university studies is to have obtained a high-school diploma.
In both Switzerland and Belgium, medical studies are an exception, which have a numerus clausus system due to overcrowding.
This liberal admission practice led to overcrowding and high dropout rates in the more popular fields of study
like psychology and journalism, as well as high failure rates on exams which are unofficially used to filter out
the less-capable students. Following a ruling by the European Court of Justice issued on July 7, 2005, which
forces Austria to accept nationals of other EU Member States under the same conditions as students who took
their Matura in Austria, a law was passed on June 8 allowing universities to impose measures to select students
in those fields which are subject to numerus clausus in Germany. Starting in 2006, the three medical universities
(in Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz) did introduce entrance exams. There are no intentions to introduce a numerus
clausus in any subject field.
Admission to Brazilian universities requires a secondary school diploma (Diploma de Ensino Médio) or equivalent,
and a satisfactory performance in a competitive entrance exam known as Concurso Vestibular. Most top state-funded
universities have a limited number of places for first-year students, which are filled for each individual major
by ranking the respective candidates' scores on the Vestibular in descending order. Contrary to other countries,
extracurricular activities, secondary school grades and interviews play no role in admissions, which are based
solely on Vestibular scores. Each university is free to determine the format and syllabus of its own Vestibular
exam, but the exam consists generally of two parts: a preliminary Part I with multiple-choice questions on the
core secondary school subjects (Portuguese Language and Literature in Portuguese Language (in the same part of the test),
Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, and Geography) and a more specific Part II consisting normally
of three or four write-in exams. A Portuguese Language/Literature exam including a student-written essay is required
of all candidates at Part II, irrespective of their intended majors. In addition, candidates also take two or three
exams in subjects that vary according to their intended course of study. For example, for prospective engineering
students, Part II normally includes Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry exams, whereas a prospective Law student
would have to take History and Geography, and Medical School-bound students take Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
Critical reading ability in a foreign language (usually English) is also tested, normally at Part I of the
Vestibular, but it represents a very small percentage (usually less than 10%) of the overall exam. Candidates
must generally achieve a minimum cutoff score in Part I (known as nota de corte) in order to be eligible to
take Part II exams. The cutoff score varies for different majors as it depends on the number of first-year
places available for each field of study. Finally, admission to certain majors like Architecture, Drama,
Fine Arts, and Music also normally requires additional specific skills tests and auditions.
In Canada, students applying from high school generally hear word back from a college or university between
late March and late May, though offers of admission may be extended to high achievers (through GPA or other submissions)
as early as November-January. Internationals/US applicants are likely to receive an offer or rejection by early April,
depending on the original submission of documents. In some cases, an institution may offer admission in a high schoolers
Grade 11 year, if monetary fees are sent in early.
College vs. university
Acceptance to any Canadian university or college requires completion of a high school diploma, such as the Ontario
Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Completion of pre-secondary education in Canada almost always means the student has:
Completed 40 hours of community service/volunterism, Successfully completed (passed) a provincial or federal Literacy test,
Successfully completed (passed) a certain number of credits (30 in Ontario) in a Canadian high school curriculum.
In Canada, the difference between college and university is significantly different than typical interpretation in
the United States or even United Kingdom. A Canadian college is more similar to an American community college, although
no such colleges come close to the worst US community colleges, and are comparable to low-end but accredited American
universities, or well-reputed American community colleges. In contrast, a Canadian university is comparable to an American
university, but again, none are close to the worst US universities, and virtually all Canadian universities have
endowments over $20 million, most frequently above $100 million. It should be noted that almost all Canadian
post-secondary institutions are publicly funded, as in, government subsidized. The few private institutions
that are not government-supported are not widely known at all, have generally only been established since the 1980's,
and are mostly located in British Columbia.
In the Canadian education system, which does vary from province to province, colleges are essentially geared for
individuals seeking applied careers, such as a chef or store manager. Universities are essentially geared for
individuals seeking more academic careers, and a university degree is required for entrance to virtually any Canadian
professional school, to become a lawyer, doctor etc.. There are other systems in place for students to enter traditional
trades (called "skilled" trades in Canada), and some provinces have unique preparatory systems or schools, such as
Quebec's CEGEP Program.
In 2007, national headlines were made when the Obay Campaign was launched by Colleges Ontario as an effort to
bring awareness to "academic snobbery" that exists in Canada, where college is typically considered a low
second-choice to university. It is also incredibly rare for students leaving high school to consider both
college and university, most standing firm on one choice as being their 'only option'.
Admission to colleges and universities in Canada has been a straightforward process since the 1970's. Students
generally rank their choice institutions in order of preference and submit their transcript to the institution or
provincial application service for evaluation. In the majority of cases, acceptance is based entirely on marks,
with potential for elevation depending on what province an applicant may be from. Applicants in-province typically
have much less stringent grade requirements than out-of-province applicants. For instance, a student applying from
an Ontario high school to a university in Alberta or Quebec is likely to require marginally elevated grades, as
opposed to applying to any school in Ontario itself, where universities and colleges have far lower requirements
for their own province's high school graduates.
In many cases, university admission can be achieved with little above average performance (around 70% in Canadian
high school grading), and sometimes even below average performance. This trend has been critically cited as a potential
problem for Canada, in that individuals seeking university education may not be prepared for it and thus wasting time
and money. For several more well-established universities though (such as University of British Columbia, Queen's
University, University of Toronto and McGill University), a strict minimum for admission to any program is set
above 75%, sometimes reaching 80% and even higher. See Canadian Ivy League, Group of Thirteen, Old Four (IV).
McGill University currently demonstrates the highest entering grade requirements in the nation, at 90% for any Canadian.
In the case of some arts programs specifically, a submission or demonstration of work, published or not, is necessary.
Architecture, Journalism and Music are fields where this is typically required.
College requirements vary more significantly, though none have entrance requirements above 85% from a Canadian high
school. In general though, more well-respected colleges (such as George Brown College, Mohawk College and Capilano
College) accept a very high proportion of students with averages above 70%, although they may place no limiting
minimum for acceptance, and consequently take students with averages below 60%. Incidentally, even the newest,
least-reputable Canadian universities have larger endowments than any Canadian college, with no Canadian college
having an endowment above $10 million. See List of Canadian universities by endowment.
Students with an IB Diploma can generally enter either college or university more easily than other Canadian
high schoolers, due to the material covered in the program. Like students with AP credits, they may also clip
courses in university with faculty consent.
In the case of more select university programs, and for almost all international students, an essay, statement
of intent or personal statement of experience must be submitted directly to the faculty being applied for.
Additionally, letters of reference, examples of extracurricular involvement, additional community service endeavours,
athletic participation, awards and scholarships won and more may all be required items for acceptance to some of
Canada's top programs.
Comparability of admissions
Although grades count for the bulk of university and college admissions, there are an array of highly competitive
programs in Canada, on par with some in the United States (which has a much larger applicant pool to draw from).
In addition, a large portion (upwards of 30%) of university graduates in Canada continue on to pursue further
education beyond an undergraduate degree, simply because employability standards are high in the country, often
demanding multiple degrees for well-paying jobs. Achieving entrance to any of two dozen colleges and universities in
Canada poses little to no difficulty for any student who has graduated high school (or earned an equivalent
diploma outside North America), but entrance to a similar number of university and college programs is extremely
difficult. On average, achieving the necessary grades for admission to a worthwhile Canadian university or college is
difficult. It should be noted that the real difficulty comes into play in staying in either college or university,
since attainment of high school grades may prove much easier than maintaining the necessary GPA for graduation
from a Canadian institution.
Post-graduate schools in Canada are, as with other parts of the world, restricted to universities (i.e. One
cannot get a Masters degree from a Canadian college). Admission to any post-graduate program in Canada is
difficult, with many universities having world-renowned programs, and Canadian graduate schools being the
sites for many famous inventions and discoveries.
Post-Secondary Application Service of British Columbia (British Columbia)
Ontario Universities' Application Centre (Ontario) Ontario College Application Service (Ontario).
List of colleges in Canada List of universities in Canada
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Canadian Ivy League
List of Canadian universities by endowment
A standard national exam given each summer is required for each student. The exam covers common school topics
such as math, language, history, science, etc. Better institutions require higher scores for admittance. The
required score also varies by province (students in more competitive provinces, like Jiangsu, need higher scores
than students from less competitive areas such as Tibet).
Numerus clausus in Finland
Prospective students who have passed the Abitur may decide freely what subjects to enroll in. However, in some
popular subject fields such as medicine or business administration, students have to pass a certain numerus
clausus — that is, they cannot enroll unless they have scored a minimum grade point average on their Abitur.
One should distinguish two types of higher education institutions in Germany, the universities (including
Technische Hochschulen) and the Fachhochschulen (polytechnics). A prospective students who has passed the Abitur
is qualified for admission to every German university, with the exception of very few new degree programs, where
additional entrance examinations were recently introduced. A Fachhochschule, in contrast, often requires from the
student the completing of an internship to qualify for admission.There is also a second German school leaving exam, which qualifies the
prospective students for admission to higher education in Germany, the Fachhochschulreife, often called Fachabitur
in colloquial usage. An internship is already part of the Fachhochschulreife itself, therefore a Fachhochschule requires
no additional internship from the student. However, most universities do not accept this qualification for
admission. An exception are universities in the German state of Hesse, who accept this qualification since 2004 for
admission to Bachelor's degree courses, but not to the traditional German Diplom degree courses.
All public universities in Hong Kong admit students under the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS).
The major criterion of selection is HKALE result. and to a less extent HKCEE result and interview performance.
Most Indian universities participate in one or another centralized admission procedure. National tests and interviews
are organized by an independent body composed of members of the participating organizations. Little weight is given to
applicants’ past academic record and more to their exam results. Applicants are ranked by exam grades, and submit their
preference of universities/programs based on their rank and choice. Some such common entrance tests are:
Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), the undergraduate exam for the seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs);
Graduate Admission Test of Engineering (GATE), the graduate exam for the IITs;Read More All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE);
Common Admission Test (CAT), for the Indian Institutes of Management. States have their own admissions exams and policies. For example, the
state of Maharashtra uses the HSC test as a prerequisite for entering Degree level college and uses the SSC test as
a prerequisite for entering Junior Level college as well as Diploma Level College.Apart from that 15% reserved
for NRI / Foreign students.
Students in their final year of secondary education apply to the Central Applications Office, listing several
courses at any of the third level institutions in order of preference. Students then receive points based on their
Leaving Certificate, and places on courses are offered to those who applied, who received the highest points.
National Center for Examinations and Evaluation
National Center for University Entrance Examinations
Entrance is done after performing well in examinations which are a local version equivalent to the General
Certificate of Education
Prospective students have to choose, two years before graduation, for a graduation type (e.g. natural science
graduation type). Subjects at Dutch universities freely accept all students who have chosen the correct graduation
type (e.g. to enroll in physics, the graduation type 'natural sciences' is required). All other students have to
pass an exam to be enroll (this is the exception). Popular subjects, such as medicine or dental medicine have a
numerus fixus, meaning that a limited number of students may enroll for this subject at a particular university.
To decide who is allowed, a lottery is held in which ones grades influence chances of being chosen (an indirect and
incomplete numerus clausus).
Candidates are admitted to entry-level programs through the Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Service,
that ranks qualified students based on a point scheme, that is based on grades and the degree of specialization and
choice of study at upper secondary school, as well as age. At Master level admission is based on the grade average
at the Bachelor level.
For undergraduate admissions the national universities have common entrance tests which are SAT based and are held
according to provincial zones, the private universities hold their own entrance test which are also SAT based.
For postgraduate admissions some of the universities hold tests which are followed by interviews and others take
interviews only. For Medical studies there are huge competition due to less quantity of Colleges. These equires test as well interview.
For Computer and Commerce Education no specific criteria or merit, but in some Public universities take test or interview.
(Sir Tariq -ITM Comerce College Sargodha Pakistan-)
Admission to higher education level studies requires the secondary school credential, Diploma de Ensino Secundário,
which is achieved after completing the first twelve study years. Students must have studied the subjects for which
they are entering to be prepared for the entrance exams, but they are not required to have previously specialised
in any specific area at the secondary school. Students sit for one or more entrance exams, Concurso nacional for
public institutions or Concurso local for private institutions. In addition to passing entrance exams, students
must fulfil particular prerequisites for the chosen course. Enrollment is limited; each year the institution
establishes the number of places available. For the public institutions the exam scores count for the final
evaluation, which includes the secondary school average marks. Then the students have to choose six
institutions/courses they prefer to attend, in preferential order. The ones, who reach the marks needed to
attend the desired institution/course, given the attributed vacant, will be admitted. Some public university
courses demands generally higher admission marks than most similar courses at some polytechnical institutes or
private institutions. (see also Education in Portugal).
Admission in Sweden requires completion of secondary education, along with the proper specific qualifications
(e.g. science in high school to study science in college). Prospective students are admitted based on their
grade point average or SAT, although majors such as theatre and architecture may require some extra work.
The admission process begins by applying no later than April for that year's semester of the fall, with a
preliminary result coming in June. None of the major universities and colleges require any tuition fees.
Education in Turkey
The Student Selection and Placement Center ÖSYM is the responsible body for organizing ÖSS, the national level
university admission examination.
The application process
The United Kingdom has a centralised system of admissions to higher education at undergraduate level, UCAS.
In general, students are not admitted to universities and colleges as a whole, but to particular courses of study.
During the first few months (September to December) of the final year of school or sixth form college (age 17/18) or
after having left school, applicants register on the UCAS website and select five courses at higher education institutes
(fewer choices are permitted for the more competitive subjects such as medicine and veterinary medicine). If the
applicant is still at school, his or her teachers will give him or her predicted grades for their A-level, Highers
or IB subjects, which are then used for the application. If the applicant has already left school, he or she applies
with results already obtained. The applicant must also write a personal statement describing why they want to study
that particular subject and why they would be an excellent student. This statement can often be decisive in
applications for competitive courses, as many students are likely to apply with similar predicted and actual grades.
Some universities, especially the most prestigious ones, including Oxford and Cambridge, may ask candidates to attend
an interview before deciding whether to make an offer. For each course applied for, the applicant receives a response from the
institution: rejection, conditional offer or unconditional offer. If a conditional offer is received, the student
can only take up the place on the course if they later fulfil certain conditions: normally the achievement of certain
grades in their A levels, Highers or IB. The minimum requirement for admission to higher education in the UK is two
Es at A level or equivalent. If no offers are received following the initial application, or the applicant does not
wish to take up any of their offers, UCAS+ can be used. Applicants can then apply to one course at a time in order to
try to find a suitable offer.
Following the receipt of offers, whether after the initial application, or through UCAS+, the applicant chooses two
courses for which offers have been made: a first choice and a second choice. If the conditions of the first choice offer
are later met, the applicant may attend this course. If the applicant does not fulfil the conditions of their first
choice, but does fulfil the conditions of their second "insurance" choice, they can attend their second choice course.
If they fail to meet the conditions of both offers, they may choose to go through "clearing". This involves ringing up
or sending their application to different universities in the hope of finding a place on another course. Many students
do successfully find places through this route.
Factors affecting admission
Whether to admit an applicant to a course is entirely the decision of each individual university. They will base their
decision on a variety of factors, but primarily the grades predicted or already received in school leaver examinations.
As more and more applicants are attaining higher and higher grades in the A level examinations, most universities also
use secondary admissions criteria. These may include results at GCSE or Standard grade examinations (or equivalent),
the references provided on the application and the information provided on the personal statement. The personal statement
can often be the deciding factor between two similar candidates so a small industry has sprung up offering personally
written personal statements for a fee. The personal statements generally describe why the applicant wants to study the
subject they have applied for, what makes them suitable to study that subject, what makes them suitable to study at
degree level generally, any relevant work experience they have gained, their extracurricular activities and any other
relevant factors. This is the only way admissions tutors can normally get an impression of what a candidate is really
like and assess the applicant's commitment to the subject.
In addition to the information provided on the UCAS form, some universities ask candidates to attend an interview.
Oxford and Cambridge almost always interview applicants, unless, based on the UCAS form, they do not believe the
applicant has any chance of admission. Other universities may choose to interview, though only in some subjects
and on a much smaller scale. The interview gives the admissions tutors another chance to assess the candidate's
suitability for the course.
Universities are increasingly being put under pressure from central Government to admit people from a wider range
of social backgrounds. Social background can only be assessed by the type of school attended, as no information about
income or background is otherwise required on the UCAS form.
Another important determinant of whether an offer is to be made is the amount of competition for admission to that
course. The more competitive the course, the less likely an offer will be made and, therefore, the stronger the
application must be. Applications for medicine are often expected to have undertaken extensive work experience in
a relevant field in order to show their commitment to the course. For the most competitive courses, less than 10%
of applications may result in admission, whereas at the less competitive universities, practically all applicants
may receive an offer of admission.
Ulitmately, however, no matter how many extra curricular activities and work experience have been undertaken,
if the admissions tutor does not believe, based on the submitted exam results, the candidate is academically capable
of completing the course, he or she will not be admitted. A well qualified candidate applying under UCAS for five competitive
courses to each of which only 10% of well qualified candidates could be accepted would have only a 40% chance of receiving
at least one offer of acceptance. Alternatively, if five less competitive courses each having a 33% acceptance rate are
chosen, the chance of receiving at least one offer is more than 85%. This implies that a strategy for improving the chance
of receiving at least one offer, to perhaps 70%, is indicated even to well qualified candidates.
All applications are made directly to the university or college, with no limit on the number of courses that can be
College admissions in the United States
American high school students apply to either four-year liberal arts colleges or universities, which include both
undergraduate or graduate students. Others attend community colleges, who admit all students with high school
diplomas, in preparation for transfer to a four year university. Non-traditional students are usually students
over the age of 22 who pursue studies in higher education. Students may apply to many institutions using the Common
Application. There is no limit to the number of colleges or universities to which a student may apply, though an
application must be submitted for each. Fees are generally charged for each admissions application, but can be
waived based on financial need.
Students apply to one or more colleges or universities by submitting an application which each college evaluates
by its own criteria. The college then decides whether to extend an offer of admission (and possibly financial aid)
to the student. The majority of colleges admit students to the college as a whole, and not to a particular academic
major, although this may not be the case in some specialized programs such as engineering and architecture. The
system is decentralized: each college has its own criteria for admission, even when using a common application form.
College Board The organization that administers the SAT and AP exams; much useful information on college admissions
plus a searchable database of colleges and universities College Insider Free college planning advice from the New Hampshire
Center for College Planning. College Opportunities Online Searchable college database maintained by
the U.S. Department of Education The Common Application- Application form accepted by over 300 colleges
and universities in the United States. Free to use, can submit applications online. College Admissions College
Admissions: Who Wins and Who Loses? a video produced by the Massachusetts School of Law American Association of
Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) Professional association for college and
university admissions practitioners.
University and college admissions