Media Release

Five star ratings and state-leading rankings for UOW in 2021 Good Unis Guide

21 years of five star ratings as Early Admission applications continue upward trend.

The University of Wollongong (UOW) has notched up 21 years of five star ratings for its educational experience in the Good Universities Guide and ranked above all other NSW universities in five key benchmarks in the 2021 edition.

The annual guide, released today (Monday 17 August), reaffirmed UOW’s five star rating across all undergraduate educational experience benchmarks and ranked it above other NSW universities for learner engagement, learning resources, skills development and for the qualifications of its teaching staff.

UOW’s state-leading skills development ranking applied to both its undergraduate and postgraduate educational experiences.

The 2021 edition marks 21 years of UOW receiving five-star ratings in the leading guide for graduating high school students. This year is also the fifth year the guide’s current assessment and ranking method has been applied, with UOW receiving five star ratings for ‘learner engagement’, ‘skills development’, ‘learning resources’, and ‘student support’ in all five editions and for ‘staff qualifications’ and ‘overall learning experience’ in four of the last five publications.

UOW shines in key benchmarks and fields of study

UOW has had several notable successes in key benchmarks across specific fields of study.

For ‘learner engagement’, which measures the proportion of undergraduate students who gave a positive assessment of learning at their university, UOW was Australia’s leading university in the field of agriculture and environmental studies, first in NSW and second nationally for creative arts and first in NSW and third nationally in the fields of law and paralegal studies, nursing and teacher education.

For its ‘overall learning experience’, UOW led NSW and ranked second nationally in law and paralegal studies, and in agriculture and environmental studies, while ranking third in Australia for creative arts, social work and teacher education.

For ‘teaching quality’ UOW ranked first in NSW in the fields of teacher education, social work, law and paralegal studies and in health services and support. UOW’s teaching quality also ranked third nationally in teacher education, social work and agriculture and environmental studies.

Early Admissions applications increasing

The Good Universities Guide’s endorsement of the quality of UOW’s learning experience comes as the University is witnessing a marked increase in the number of high school students applying for a place via its Early Admissions (EA) program.

With applications closing over the weekend, UOW has seen an increase of around 26% compared to last year, continuing a long-running trend that has seen a 71% increase in EA applications over the last five years, despite numbers of graduating high school students declining over the period.


The highly-successful program, now in its 20th year, provides certainty for successful applicants as they commence their final exams and provides an opportunity for UOW to assess prospective students’ suitability for university and likelihood of success in their chosen field based on a range of factors in addition to their Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR).

UOW leaders encouraged by positive results

UOW’s senior leaders took encouragement from these positive indicators during what is a difficult time for Australia’s higher education sector.

“Although UOW is well known for its on-campus student experience, it is actually our teaching quality and student support that lies at the heart of our positive education offerings. In 2020 we’ve successfully transitioned that into our online course delivery in response to COVID-19 and received very positive feedback from students.

“These latest rankings and the positive trend in applications are further endorsements of UOW’s exceptional educational experience, which includes our innovative extracurricular skills development programs, such as UOWx, which help produce highly sought-after, career-ready graduates,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Theo Farrell said.

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joe Chicharo OM, who has been with UOW for 35 years and played a key leadership role in shaping UOW’s student experience over that time, was equally pleased with the results.

“To have consistently received five star ratings in the Good Universities Guide for 21 years is a significant achievement on its own, but to be leading the state and the nation on several benchmarks is even better still and helps explain why our Early Admission applications continue their upward trend.

“This consistent performance is also supported by results in the Australian Government’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) student and graduate employer surveys, international rankings and by the Global Teaching Excellence Award UOW received in 2018 for our institution-wide commitment to learning and teaching excellence,” Professor Chicharo said.

Staff congratulated

Both leaders took the opportunity to congratulate UOW’s academic and professional staff for the continued recognition for their high qualifications, their commitment to quality teaching, and for all they do to create and support the five-star educational experience enjoyed by UOW students – whether on campus or online.

“In 2021, UOW should be a clear choice for any graduating high school student looking to transition into a university offering a five star educational experience characterised by quality teaching by highly qualified staff in a supportive, well-equipped learning environment designed to help them develop skills necessary for future career success,” Professor Chicharo said.

The Good Universities Guide provides an annual performance rating for every university in Australia, based on student-relevant criteria such as; graduate salaries, teaching quality, learning resources and graduate employment outcomes.

Story by Andrew Herring from

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