The first intake of students to UNSW's Elite Athletes and Performers program has been welcomed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer.

Under the new program, undergraduate applicants can receive up to five bonus points on their UAI rank for entry into their preferred UNSW program.

Elite athletes are defined according to the Australian Sports Commission's Elite Athlete Friendly University Agreement. An elite performer is a student who has demonstrated excellence through performing arts, scholastic achievement or leadership on a national or international level.

In his welcome address to students, the Vice-Chancellor discussed the important role initiatives like the Elite Athletes and Performers program play in recognising a broad range of skills, not just scholastic achievement.

"We all know there are attributes that can't be measured by the HSC alone," Professor Hilmer said.

Lauren Kitchen, 18, is a Bachelor of Planning student in the Faculty of the Built Environment. She's also a Junior Australian Road Cycling Champion.

"I researched all the universities in Sydney and UNSW offered the best facilities and support for me to study and train at the same time," she said.

Alistair Campbell, 19, who is studying Arts/Law, entered the program based on his leadership credentials. He has spent the past nine months running youth development projects in Iraq.

"This program will allow me to study and still travel twice this year to set up the Iraqi Schools Debating Competition. What's unique about this UNSW program is that it recognises people who are elite performers in other areas than just sports."

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