Applications are open until May 25 and offers will be made in August. The university is urging students to use the April school holidays to apply. ANU will likely make 3000-3500 offers with the aim of 2500 confirmed enrolments. Students will have guaranteed spots in student accommodation and scholarships are available.
Ms Bishop said the initiative would “hopefully remove much of the stress and anxiety of undertaking year 12 studies this year” amid unprecedented disruption.
Some students will also be admitted to ANU based on their year 12 results in another round of offers.
ANU has confidence in the pre-emptive strategy because it had already introduced a new admissions process for students, starting this year, which takes into account earlier academic results, extracurricular activities and personal circumstances alongside ATARs.
Vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said it had worked well, with academic achievement in year 11 correlating reliably with ATAR performance.
“We were able to predict with almost 98 per cent accuracy,” he said. Professor Schmidt encouraged students to work hard in year 12 anyway because university subjects “are not easy”.
Federal, state and territory education ministers have been working to adapt school systems and tertiary education admissions amid the pandemic. They have assured students there will be no year 13 or mass repeating.
Victoria asked universities this week to delay the start of their 2021 academic year to accommodate the disruption to schooling.
Ms Bishop said ANU did not believe a delayed academic year was necessary and the university was working on the assumption it would begin teaching in February 2021 as usual.
“I hope that the education sector as well as school-leavers and their families will embrace this offer because it’s a recognition of the disruption students will experience and these unconditional offers can stand whatever final model the states determine in their respective education systems for year 12 results,” she said.
The former foreign minister, who was installed as ANU chancellor this year, praised federal, state and territory leaders for their handling of the COVID-19 crisis response.
“Putting public health as the highest priority while striving to not cause more damage to the economy is absolutely necessary. The measures have been balanced and scalable,” she said.
“And I think the challenge is to reconcile the restrictions with stimulus and hoping that our economy is resilient enough to come through this.”
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Fergus Hunter is an education and communications reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.