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Change of heart? Not a problem, just change your preferences

If you’re in Year 12 and want to go to university next year, then you’ll probably know that this is the time of year to start getting your applications organised.  But did you also know that if you have a change of heart, it’s not a problem – you can just change your preferences?

Unis have tried to design a system that’s as flexible as possible, bearing in mind all the different courses on offer and the thousands of applications they receive each year. Both the universities and admission centres recognise that signing up for  tertiary studies is a huge decision. There’s a lot to take in, and so many options available, so it’s inevitable that students are going change their minds for all kinds of reasons.

It happens and it’s not a big deal. There are lots of ways that you can tweak your university applications even after you’ve submitted them. With just a little bit of time and effort you can easily get back on track.


Before ATAR results are released


Were you stressing about submitting your uni application between school work and other commitments? If you were in a hurry perhaps you didn’t give too much thought to the order of your preferences.

Maybe choices have been weighing on your mind, or you’ve had some time to do a bit more research and found a different course that would suit you better. Maybe you’ve done some further reading on one of the courses you’d put lower in your preferences, and have now decided that’s the one you’d really like to study.

Perhaps you’ve had a change in your life that means that you’ll need to rethink where you’ll be able to go to uni.

Whatever the reason, the good news is that you can reorder your preferences any time.

You’ll need the login and password details for the relevant account that you created when you originally applied. So dig those out, then hop online to see what you need to do next.

If you’re having any trouble you can give the relevant admissions centre a call. If you applied directly to a university and want to change your application, it’s best to contact the university directly – ask to speak to the admissions team, they’ll know how to help.


Windows for changing your preferences


So you never got around to changing your preferences because life was just too busy and it wasn’t a priority before your exams, but you’d still like to change the courses you’ve selected or the ones you’d most like to receive an offer for. Or you’ve received your ATAR results and you’ve done much better (or perhaps not as well) as you’d hoped. Don’t fret – you can still change your preferences.

Bear in mind that the whole results-to-offers process moves quickly, so if you’re thinking you might want (or have) to change your preferences, then keep reading.

In each state, the ATAR results are released on different days and the main round of offers made through Tertiary Admissions Centres happen a couple of days after that. They always allow a period where you can change your preferences between receiving your ATAR and offers being made.

Say you do end up getting a lower ATAR than you expected. You could reorder your preferences and list a course with lower entry requirement first – this way you’ll be more likely to receive an offer and you get to influence which course you’d like as your second option.

Or, if you did way better than expected, you can move a course with a higher selection rank to your top spot (just make sure you’re not moving it because you can and that it’s something that you do actually want to study).

Here’s the dates you’ll need to know if you don’t want to miss that opportunity:

State Admissions Centre Results Release Date Change of preferences cut-off for main round offer
NSW & ACT UAC 15 December By 11.59pm 16 December
Victoria VTAC 12 December By 4pm 14 December
Queensland QTAC 16 December By 12pm 19 December
WA TISC 18 December By 11.59pm 19 December
SA & NT SATAC TBC 4 January 2023
Tasmania* UTAS 14 December N/A: speak to UTAS to change your preferences up until course start date.

*UTAS issue main round of offers to Tasmanian students in Mid December and to interstate students in January, you’ll need to call and check with them what their system for changing preferences is.

For students who have applied via direct entry to institutions, look on their website or give the admissions centre a call for dates and instructions.


But wait… there’s more


Didn’t get an offer in the main rounds? Or maybe you did get an offer but it’s not the one you wanted. Well, there’s more good news –  you still have time to change your preferences before the next rounds of offers, if you’d like to.

For example, if you got an offer but it’s not your first preference and that’s the one you really, really want, accept the offer you received and leave your preferences as they were. You might be offered a place for your first preference course in the next round of offers.

That can happen if somebody else doesn’t accept an offer and a place becomes available for the next in line students (you).

You might have been offered your first preference but not be as excited about it as you ought to be, that’s ok too. Again, you can accept your offer, reorder your preferences list for the next round of offers and see if you get another offer for the course you want.

These are the dates you’ll need to know for the next round of offers:

State Admissions Centre Change of Preferences Closes for next round of offers round
NSW & ACT UAC By 11.59pm 5 January 2023
Victoria VTAC By 12pm 19 January 2023
Queensland QTAC By 11.59pm 4 January 2023
WA TISC By 11.59pm 15 January 2023
SA & NT SATAC 4 January 2023 (SATAC only have 1 change of preference deadline)
Tasmania* UTAS Check with UTAS


Change your preferences even after you’ve accepted an offer


Say what? Yep it’s true – even if you received an offer in the main round, you can still change your preferences.

(If you get an offer, it’s probably always best to accept it. That way, if you don’t receive an offer in later rounds, you still have that option to fall back on).

For example:

  • you receive an offer in main rounds for your first preference but have changed your mind about the course you want
  • accept your offer
  • reorder your preferences before the cut-off date (see above table or contact the TAC) for the next round, list the course you’d like to receive an offer for in first place
  • wait to see what offers you get in the next round
  • accept your new offer
  • withdraw your enrolment from the first institution

Important Note: Make sure that you withdraw your enrolment for any offers that you no longer want, before the census date (check with the uni if the information isn’t in your offer email), otherwise you could end up paying two lots of fees.


Looking for more help?


If you need more information on choosing courses and unis, how to go about applying to university, as well as preferences and when you can change them, you can download our Apply to Uni Guide. It’s out now and covers all the important information for each state.

Check out this short video with some tips on choosing your preferences:


Don’t give up


If things don’t work out the way you had hoped with your results and offers, there are still lots of different ways that you’ll be able to access the courses and careers that you’d like to pursue.

Speak with the TACs and universities, or have a look at some of the resources that you might find useful on our website, including alternative pathways.


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