WIMMERA students are making tough choices about their futures after Australian Tertiary Admission Rank scores were released on Thursday morning for students who completed their Victorian Certificate of Education in 2019.
ATAR scores are calculated to compare the overall achievement of students who have completed different combinations of VCE studies. It is used in all Australian states.
While many will choose to travel further afield to pursue higher education, there are a number of options closer to home to choose from.
Longerenong College is internationally recognised for the wide range of agriculture-focused courses it offers.
Head of campus John Goldsmith said the college had reviewed its current course structure to include more focus on digital agriculture technology.
"That is our main focus for 2020 and comes after the implementation of our new data farm," he said.
The Advanced Diploma of Agribusinesses is the most popular course the college offers and attracts about 40 new students each year.
"They come from all over the state and most of them have completed year 12," he said.
The college only offers its Diploma of Agronomy as an online course.
"We are known for having a very hands-on approach to learning so it's hard to do our courses online," he said.
The college is offering five new scholarships of $15,000 in 2020, which were funded though the federal government.
"They are designed to attract domestic students to regional and rural areas," he said.
Federation University has a Wimmera campus located in Horsham, and offers a range of university and TAFE courses.
Head of campus Geoff Lord said it was hoping to offer three new courses in 2020 depending on interest.
"We're planning to offer a Diploma and Certificate III in early childhood education, and a Certificate IV in mental health," he said.
The school offers online study options for its courses with facilities available for all students.
"We have a number of local students who are studying in a blended mode online and in-person," he said.
"That's a very popular option for our mature age students or people who are returning to study."
Mr Lord said the university's most popular course in the Wimmera was its Division II in Nursing, with a cohort of 75 students.
"We have 25 students graduating from that course this year and we hope to fill it again next year," he said.
"We have been working with the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership to look at identifying skill training gaps and employment gaps in the region. That will then inform what we offer later on."
In 2018 Horsham College's year 12 students received 51 first round offers for tertiary study.
A total of 33 students enrolled in university courses, eight enrolled in TAFE courses, 15 students deferred their university courses to work for a year, 31 students gained full-time apprenticeships and traineeships and 12 students moved on to employment.
Horsham's St Brigid's College VCE co-ordinator John Lowes said about 50 per cent of the school's cohort would apply for university positions after year 12.
"It does vary from year-to-year but a fair amount go to university," he said.
"We often have a lot of students who leave in the last term to work after they've finished their Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning or Vocational Education and Training studies.
"This year we had 23 students apply for university out of 56 students. Most who go to university go to Melbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat or Geelong.
"We've had a few more students take on options at Federation University in Horsham, especially if they want to study nursing or education. Having a wider range of options means more students are staying locally and studying online too."
In 2018 the college had 60 students in year 12. Of those, 34 responded to a school levers survey.
A total of 24 students went on to study at university or TAFE, seven went on to study an apprenticeship, and ten were either working, looking for work or deferred.
Students have until 4pm on December 14 to change their university and TAFE preferences.
What is ATAR?
THE Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, or ATAR, is calculated by VTAC solely for the use of tertiary institutions to compare the overall achievement of students who have completed different combinations of VCE studies. The ATAR is used in all Australian states except Queensland.
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