There’s never been a more important time to own the unknown.
To our prospective UQ students and your parents,
There’s no escaping the fact that 2020 has already been the toughest year in living memory for many of us. My thoughts are particularly with those who are battling the virus right now or who have recently lost their jobs due to the sudden closure of so many workplaces.
As the ripple effects of this pandemic continue to spread, I also want to acknowledge that it’s been a very challenging and uncertain period for Year 12 students.
I’m sure that those of you currently studying Year 12 had high expectations for 2020 – and, at the moment, it feels like those hopes have been dashed. I encourage you to hang in there. Don’t lose sight of the fact that this period of disruption and isolation will eventually end and it will be replaced by a period of recovery and re-connection.
Although social distancing will still be necessary for a little while yet, there are positive signs that both the Federal and Queensland governments are already making plans for the recovery phase.
In particular, over the past week, there have been important announcements regarding the remainder of this school year and the pathway to university admission in 2021.
On Monday, the State Government announced that Queensland school students will switch to online learning for at least the first five weeks of Term Two. During this period, schools will continue to operate, but will only be open for vulnerable students and the children of essential workers. This means that the vast majority of you will be studying online, from home, until at least 22 May.
We also now know, for certain, that your Year 12 studies will actually count towards university admission in 2021.
This was decided at a meeting held last week between Federal, State and Territory Education Ministers, where they confirmed that Year 12 students will gain their leaving certificate and an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) in 2020.
As the Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said after that meeting: “There will be no Year 13. There will be no mass repeating of Year 12.”
For all of us at The University of Queensland (UQ), this is tremendous news. We’re delighted that we can now press ahead with our planning to welcome the current Year 12 graduating class to our campuses for the start of the 2021 academic year.
I hope that the prospect of joining us at UQ, next year, also gives you motivation to attack the remainder of Year 12 with a greater sense of purpose. In the longer term, I’m sure that you will reap the benefits of any extra effort that you put into your studies during this period of home isolation.
Of course, even in the best of times, education is vitally important. Given that there will be higher levels of unemployment as we recover from this crisis, achieving a strong ATAR will give you the best possible opportunity to broaden your future study and career options.
So, my advice to you is to try to overcome your disappointment with how this year has panned out – and the uncertainty about what comes next. Instead, concentrate on the things that you can control, such as your studies and setting yourself up for a bright future.
At UQ, we’re in regular contact with Queensland teachers, schools and education officials – including the leaders of the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre. There are still some details to be finalised about changes to the tertiary admission process, but we are very confident that we will be able to maintain integrity, equity and fairness in that process.
In total, we expect to offer around 6,000 school leavers the opportunity to study here at UQ next year. We really hope that you will consider joining our community of knowledge seekers and leaders.
I wish you all the very best for the remainder of Year 12 – and I encourage you to apply to join us in 2021.
Professor Peter Høj AC
Vice-Chancellor and President