After a few somewhat disrupted years in education there are welcome signs that school and home learning environments are returning to some sort of ‘normal’ for our year 12 students and non-year 12 QTAC applicants.   

Data tells the story and QTAC’s analysis of the Educational Access Scheme (EAS) data provides useful insights into the effect the pandemic has had on student learning over the past few years. The EAS scheme assists tertiary study applicants whose recent study was impacted by financial or personal challenges.  

From 2021 to the 2022 admissions years there was a decrease in applications in all categories with a significant decrease in applications for educational disruption and financial hardship. 

There were 16,777 EAS applicants for the 2022 admissions year which is a decrease of 29% from 2021, but similar to the 16,208 applications for 2020. Key factors influencing the reduction in EAS applicants for 2022 were: lower unemployment1 with a corresponding decrease in non-year twelve EAS applicants, plus fewer COVID-19 related EAS applications from 2021 Queensland Year 12 students than the 2020 cohort, who faced larger-scale and longer-term school shutdowns. This may help to explain the 40% decrease in EAS applications in Home Environment and Responsibilities and School Environment categories, as these were where most COVID-related applications were made. 

In 2022 60% of EAS applicants were Year 12s with non-year 12 applicants making up 40% of EAS applications. EAS applications from the non-year 12 cohort in the Home Environment and Responsibilities and School Environment categories have seen decreases of over 55%. This indicates that that group of potential students faced less pressure on the home and study front in 2021 than in 2020. It also reflects the decline in QTAC applications from the non-year 12 market, from the pandemic-inspired high in 2020 for 2021 admissions. 

1  Reference  Davidson, P., (2022) A tale of two pandemics: COVID, inequality and poverty in 2020 and 2021 ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership, Build Back Fairer Series, Report No. 3, Sydney