The change of preference period explained for Year 12s

Once ATAR results are out, you’ll have one more chance to change your course shortlist before main round uni offers. Here are the most important things to understand about this crucial change of preference period.

Three doors against a pink background

What is the change of preference period?

As a recent Year 12 leaver (woo hoo!) you probably already know there are various times throughout the year when students can rearrange their university course preferences. These times are known as change of preference periods. 

Immediately after your Year 12 results are released, you’ll enter the most important change of preference period. This is when you can tweak your course shortlist one last time before ATAR-based university offers are made in December. 

Once you know your results, you might like to re-order your preferences because you did better in your exams than you expected, your ATAR was lower than expected, or you’ve just changed your mind about what you want to study in 2023. 

Whatever the reason, know that thousands of Year 12 students across Australia will be thinking about their futures at this time, and that you’re not alone. The below advice should help you tackle changing your preferences.

How to change your course preferences

To change your course preferences after your ATAR results come out, simply log in to your state-based tertiary admissions centre using the account you have already set up. 

State or territory Tertiary admissions centre 
Victoria Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC)
Tasmania Course applications are handled directly by the University of Tasmania (UTAS)
NSW and ACT Universities Admissions Centre (UAC)
Queensland Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC)
South Australia and Northern Territory South Australia Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC)
Western Australia Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC) 

Then open your course preference list, and add, delete or rearrange your course choices, in the order that you would most like to study them. Make sure your number one choice appears at the top. 

It’s free to change your preferences, provided you’ve paid your initial application processing fee. Some admission centres (like QTAC) may charge you after the first three times, so just keep that in mind before you hit the submit button. You can double check this on your state admission centre’s website. 

Change of preference dates to know about for the 2023 study year

You only have a small window of time in which you can change your preferences before first round uni offers go out. Here are the closing dates for each state and territory:

State or territory ATAR results released Change of preferences due  First round offers released
Victoria 12 December 2022 4pm on 14 December 2022 21 December 2022
Tasmania 14 December 2022 N/A; speak to UTAS regarding your chosen course From mid-December
NSW and ACT 15 December 2022 11.59pm on 16 December 2022  22 December 2022 
Queensland 16 December 2022 12pm on 19 December 2022 22 December 2022
Western Australia 18 December 2022 11.59pm on 19 December 2022 23 December 2022 
South Australia and Northern Territory 19 December 2022 4 January 2023 12 January 2023

If you meet the requirements for your first course preference, you will generally receive an offer in the main round.

But if it doesn’t happen, don’t panic. You can wait to see if you receive an offer in subsequent rounds, when you will automatically be reconsidered for all your course preferences. You can also swap your preferences again ahead of the next offer round.     

What to think about before changing your course preferences

Don’t feel like you have to change your preferences

First things first: if you’re already happy with your shortlist, great! Don’t feel like you have to change your uni preferences just because you have the option. 

On the other hand, if you’ve found a new course that you like better or your ATAR was much lower than expected and you’d like to pick a more realistic option, go for it. But make sure you’re selecting courses that you’ve researched and that meet your career goals. You should also double check that you meet the course entry requirements.   

Put your top choice first

It’s worth remembering that all courses will be making offers in the main round. But only courses that still have places available will be making offers in the following rounds. To avoid missing a place in the course that you really want to do, you should always put your first choice at the top of your list. 

Get free advice at a change of preference expo

Universities know that the main change of preference period can be stressful. That’s why many of them run a special change of preference day straight after ATAR results are released. If you want some personalised advice about your options, see if the uni you want to study with has anything on. 

As an example, Swinburne is hosting a 13 December expo where you can visit the Hawthorn campus, ask about some alternative course options, and get one-on-one help updating your preferences. 

Heading along to one of these events can be a nice way to reassure yourself that you’re making the right choices.

Have a backup plan

Finally, give yourself a break if things don’t go according to plan and you don’t receive the offers you wanted. While high schools put a lot of pressure on you to achieve a high ATAR, the reality is that there are plenty of other ways to get into university. One option is to go through Open Universities Australia.

We can help you get into an undergraduate degree through single subject entry. Basically, you study about four foundational subjects from your chosen course through us online. These subjects don’t have entry requirements, so you’re allowed to enrol no matter your ATAR. As long as you successfully complete these subjects, you can then transition into the related full-length degree. You can keep studying the degree online, or switch to an on-campus place if you want—it’s up to you. Taylah is just one example of a Year 12 student who got into uni this way.

To learn more about this, read about what we call our open-door policy, or reach out to one of our friendly student advisors.


Good luck with your change of preferences—you’ve got this!

You should be so proud of what you’ve achieved to get here. Exams are over, all that hard work is behind you, and your future is just beginning. 


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