The new funding scheme has reduced the cost of engineering and science degrees, but the rank required for biochemical engineering at Sydney fell from 92 to 90.75, while the cut-off for civil engineering dropped from 92.30 to 90.
At the University of Technology, the lowest selection rank required for many of the engineering degrees also fell. Civil and Environmental Engineering required a rank of 82.35 for the late December offer round compared with 85.5 last year.
There was a similar trend at the University of NSW, with a bachelor of engineering falling from 93 to 90.1.
ATARs for science degrees also fell. This year, students could be accepted at UNSW with a selection rank of 80 compared with 85 last year, while the rank at UTS fell from 76.2 to 75.6.
The rank required for a bachelor of nursing – another degree being encouraged by the federal government – climbed slightly at Sydney University, but stayed steady at the University of Western Sydney and UTS.
Kim Paino from the University Admissions Centre said ranks could fall because the degree was less popular, or because there were more places. Earlier preferences had revealed less interest in engineering this year.
“[Universities] are prepared to go even lower for the next round, for applicants who are wanting to re-order their preferences,” she said. “That’s the more important piece of information. If they are prepared to go down a bit, they are trying to fill up spaces.”
The federal government’s Job Ready Graduates plan changed the Commonwealth funding formula for domestic students’ degrees, making some cheaper and others more expensive depending on the need for graduates in those areas.
It also increased the number of places available to domestic students, amid a predicted demand for study during the COVID-19 economic downturn, and the arrival of the so-called Costello baby boom – named after former Treasurer Peter Costello, who urged couples to have babies for the good of the country – at university.
UAC data showed an increase in university demand of 5.7 per cent this year compared with last year. But there will be 34,700 offers made on Wednesday compared with 38000 at the same time last year because a record number of offers were made earlier in the year.
As the selection rank uses the ATAR and adjustment factors, the lowest rank does not represent the minimum ATAR.
Jordan Baker is Education Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald