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ACCC to investigate tertiary admissions complaint

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched a formal investigation into the behaviour of two state-based university admissions centres following a complaint of anti-competitive behaviour from The Australian National University (ANU).

ANU Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington said the ACCC would conduct a formal investigation into practises by the SATAC in South Australia and Western Australia’s Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC).

In April 2016, Professor Hughes-Warrington said ANU was denied membership of some state-based university admissions centres, which made it more difficult for students in those states to apply to study at ANU or interstate universities.

“Some will say it is a tough course of action to achieve reform. What we are seeking on behalf of students and all universities is fairness and equal access,” Professor Hughes-Warrington said.

“Under the existing arrangements, students who want to apply for a university in another state will have to pay a second application fee to a second tertiary admissions centre.”

As Australia’s national university, around half of the annual student preferences to study at ANU come from people who live outside of the national capital.

ANU is a member of the UAC, which operates in New South Wales and the ACT, and has been allowed to apply to join the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC).

ANU is the only university in Australia established by an act of Federal Parliament.

Professor Hughes-Warrington said as a national institution, which offered some online courses, students around the country should have equal access to information about ANU courses.

She said this step by the ACCC strengthens the case for a national university admissions centre to replace the five separate state-based admissions centres.

“Responses from parents of prospective students have strengthened our resolve to stay the course in seeking national admissions reform,” Professor Hughes-Warrington said.

“A national applications system might lead to better efficiency, make it easier for students to apply for courses at any university in Australia, and lead to a more rounded suite of services to cover international student admissions and accommodation preferences.”

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