Understanding the University Application Process in Australia

Learn how and when you need to apply to get a place

Do you need to apply for university?

If you want to extend your studies and maximise your skills then a university degree can certainly help.

Whether you’re fresh out of school and applying for your first undergraduate degree, or a seasoned scholar with multiple qualifications under your belt, you need to understand the university application process and how it works to make sure you get a place.

In Australia, there are two ways of securing a place at uni:

Through a direct application university. This includes through Early Entry programs. 


Through one of the tertiary application centres – UAC, QTAC, VTAC, TIAS or SATAC

How to apply for university

What and where you want to study will dictate how you need to apply

Tertiary Application Centres process the vast majority of undergraduate applications in Australia, but there are some exceptions.

The first step is to decide where you want to study, and the course you want to study there. We’ve created a database of every University with instructions for how to apply, so if you’re not sure what or where to study then go here.

Once you’ve identified a course or two, check out the application instructions and start the process.

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University application steps

Steps to apply to university

Step 1

What do you want to study?

First work out what types of things you’d like to study, and build some post-university career goals

Step 1

Step 2

Find somewhere to study

You’ll need to know which universities offer the types of degrees you’re interested in, and if you’re eligible for entry. You can search for universities here 

Step 2

Step 3

Can you apply direct?

If yes, apply direct – you’ll usually save yourself the application fees and get an answer before everyone else.

If not, apply via the processing centre.

Step 3

Step 4


Ensure you meet the application deadlines, collect all the documents you need and submit everything on time. If you need to pay a fee make sure that is done on time as well

Step 4


How do Tertiary Application Centres work?

Each state has a not-for-profit organisation which handles applications on behalf of the universities. These people are also the ones who issue your ATAR.

You generally need to apply through the Centre in the state where your chosen university is based. For example, if you’re applying to QUT you’ll need to submit an application through QTAC (regardless of which state you live in).

Some offer special access schemes for disadvantaged students, or scholarships to help you settle into further study. Just about all the universities partner with their state’s Tertiary Admissions Centre for undergraduate applications, but some only offer Direct Entry.


UAC (University Admissions Centre) processes applications for a range of universities and institutions in NSW and the ACT. Find out more about UAC here


Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre – VTAC process applications on behalf of most universities in Victoria, as well as other tertiary institutions.

Find out more about VTAC here


Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre – QTAC process applications for publicly funded Queensland universities, Bond University Medicine, TAFE Queensland and a few other institutions.

Find out more about QTAC here

Western Australia

Tertiary Institutions Service Centre – TISC processes applications for universities and associate members in WA.

Find out more about TISC here


University of Tasmania – UTAS handle and process all their applications and also issue ATARs to Tasmanian students.


South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre – SATAC process applications on behalf of these participating institutions in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Find out more about SATAC here

There are some exceptions

Some universities offer Early Entry programs, Medical programs or other alternative entry schemes which you apply for directly to the university.

If you apply for one of these make sure you read the rules very carefully, as some tell you to also apply through the Tertiary Admissions Centre and if you don’t you may lose your spot.

Applying direct is easy, simply find the course you want and in 99% of cases you’ll be able to find a button that says, ‘Apply Now’. Just follow the instructions and upload the information they ask for on time and wait to see if you get an offer.

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