In the past getting into uni was a pretty straightforward, linear process.
Finish high school with the grades you need for the degree you want to study and you’d get accepted and be on your way.
But according to our latest research that’s no longer the case for a significant number of young Australians who are getting into their dream degree in a variety of other ways.
We recently surveyed 1062 young people who are either planning to go to university or who are already in university and while the majority (71%) said ATAR was their uni entry method, a staggering 29% were getting into university in other ways.
That suggests alternative post-school pathways are more viable than ever which is great news for young Aussies making big decisions about their future.
So what alternatives are there for getting into university?
- Early Entry Scheme – 15%
Fifteen per cent of young Aussies we surveyed told us they got or were getting into uni via early entry schemes.
Early entry schemes allow students to apply for university before they even sit their year 12 exams in order to secure a place, you guessed it, early.
For example, the University of New England (UNE)’s Early Entry program relies on a student’s high school’s assessment of their ability to cope with study at university, rather than relying entirely on an ATAR or OP (or equivalent) score – taking some of the stress out of the exam period.
It’s worth noting that if your child plans to take a gap year, they’ll need to apply while they’re still in year 12.
Other early conditional offers are also available, such as the UNSW Gateway Early Conditional Offer, which is a three-year program and early admission pathway for students in Years 10, 11 and 12 who attend a Gateway school or live in a low-socioeconomic area based on SEIFA criteria.
- Pathway/bridging/enabling/sub-bachelor course – 4%
Four per cent of Gen Zs said they took or will take advantage of a pathway, bridging, enabling or sub-bachelor course to get into the degree they want.
These pathways, like those provided by the University of Sydney, ‘are short courses which cover assumed knowledge for HSC subjects that are required for some tertiary degrees’.
They provide students who have the desire to succeed but don’t have the assumed knowledge or formal requirements for the degree they want to study due to lack of pre-requisites or not achieving the ATAR they need.
- Submitting a creative portfolio – 2%
Meanwhile, 2% of the Gen Zs we surveyed managed to wriggle their way into the degree they wanted by submitting a creative portfolio.
Portfiolio entries as a pathway, like that on offer at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their passion, creativity and potential to succeed in their dream degree alongside their ATAR.
The UNSW Portfolio Entry includes:
- Arts, Design & Architecture Portfolio Entry
- Bachelor of Information Systems Admissions Scheme (BISAS)
- Faculty of Engineering Admissions Scheme (FEAS)
- Medicine & Health Admissions Scheme
- VET qualification
Another 2% of our survey respondents said they utilised a VET qualification to get into uni. VET stands for Vocational Education and Training, which are formal trainings that focus on ‘real world’ skills to prepare students for a variety of professions.
VET qualifications can take from six months to three years and the certifications and advanced diplomas you can get can act as pathway programs to lead to university degrees for students that don’t meet the traditional entry requirements (such as prerequisite study/knowledge, or English language skills).
To find out whether a VET could be an alternative university pathway for your child, check out this helpful article by Insider Guides.
- Mature age student – 2%
If like 2% of our survey respondents your child would prefer to wait a little before embarking on their university studies (say, to take a gap year, volunteer, travel or gain professional work experience etc), applying as a mature age student may be an option.
They’ll be able to apply as a mature student as soon as they reach 21 years of age, are considered an Australian domestic resident and do not have an ‘assessable qualification’.
However, being over the age of 21 and ready to make the first step towards university doesn’t make everyone eligible for university. For example, the Australian National University (ANU) requires mature age students to have:
- Completed year 12 at any time, or
- Hold an Associate Diploma, Diploma, or Advanced Diploma, or
- Have at any time completed at least one year of full-time equivalent (i.e. eight courses) at a university or college of advanced education at degree level
Check the full list of requirements for mature age applicants here.
- Undergraduate certificate – 2%
Some university students we surveyed (2%) got into their dream degree by getting an Undergraduate Certificate. A Open Universities, an Undergraduate Certificate is:
‘An introductory university qualification that is a level below a Bachelor Degree. It’s made up of four subjects, and it takes just six months to complete if you study full-time.’
The benefit of completing an Undergraduate Certificate is that it has fewer requirements than formal university courses – in fact, many have no entry requirements at all, making it a great place for your child to start their university study journey.
Thinking of it as a taster course makes it a great way to test out whether a Bachelor Degree is for your child while putting them on a pathway to a degree.
Find out more about Open Universities’ undergrad certificates, and how they work, here.
- Work and life experience – 1%
One percent of our survey respondents capitalised on their work and life experience for entry into undergraduate courses, and it’s not a pathway that should be overlooked.
Many prestigious universities, like La Trobe university, consider skill level, work experience and life experience when assessing university applications.
And, they take it seriously. In fact, La Trobe University uses the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations and the Australian Qualifications Framework to establish a prospective student’s skill level to assist in determining their eligibility.