Experience Opens University Doors

H.S.C and then university, the only track to a dream career and success-or is it?

What if you’re in the 25% of the population who never completed year 12?  What if you didn’t get the score you needed? I know at high school I wasn’t ready to decide my career for the rest of my life.  With suicide being the number one killer of youth in Australia perhaps it’s time we took the pressure off on achieving OP and TE scores and look at other options.

Real life example

Tanya image

I was never told there were other ways to become a teacher.

-Tanya Malone

Tanya Malone was a troubled teen. She left school at fifteen, left home at sixteen and was told she would never amount to anything. Today the single mother of two struggles to make ends meet. From the outside her life reflects a typical welfare candidate, but look deeper. At 36 This incredible woman has enrolled at university to study her Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. She doesn’t have a H.S.C, so how did she do it?

OP or TE is not the only way into Uni.

VET, apprenticeships, traineeships, TAFE diplomas and certificates, work experience, they all count as pathways to Uni.  QUT utilise access through Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre QTAC and the rank system.

Table 1 Alternative Pathway Admissions Equivalents Selected Examples QUT 2017

Australian Qualification Framework

Minimum Rank


Diploma 87 7
Certificate IV 74 12
Certificate III 68 15

In Queensland if you don’t have the score to get into your chosen field or you want to increase your Rank, there are avenues like Special Tertiary Admissions Test STAT and Dual award access through QTAC.

Each university in Australia has their own requirements for entry.

I don’t have time to go to school.

Seriously who does? Life is busy. Single mother Tanya will attest to that. Here’s the secret; higher study and further education are not school. It’s time to change your perception. Flexible study options are key words in further education today. With the vast amount of information available at your fingertips study can be completed online 24/7 in your own home, in the workplace or at Macca’s when your kids are playing. You don’t get much more flexible than that.

Most courses require some form of practical assessment. If you are upskilling in your industry of employment, then evidence of your superior skills occurs on a daily basis. An approved trainer may be able to sign off on your competency based on your workplace activities. This is known as Recognised Prior Learning. RPL reduces the time it takes to complete your study. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that one in five in the workplace is engaged in study. With numbers like that perhaps one of your colleagues is also a student.

But who can afford Uni?

No doubt the thought of paying tens of thousands of dollars gives you palpitations. Maybe it’s the thought of debt or maybe you simply can’t afford to pay anything more on your current salary. Help is here.

  • FEE and HECS-HELP funding. Government funding that you pay back once your earnings are sufficient. Eligibility criteria apply.
  • Scholarships. Money provided by individual or companies or the education facility to pay for a selected persons education. You need to check conditions around eligibility to apply.
  • Employer funded. Some employers are recognising the benefits of upskilling their own employees. Some offer subsidies and some may foot the entire bill.
  • Pay as you go.

I am too old

Don’t say that to Allan Stewart.  In 2012 this remarkable 97 year old graduated from Southern Cross University with a Master of Clinical Science.

There are benefits to mature-aged study aside from using dementia as a creative excuse for forgetting to hand in an assignment.  Mature-aged students generally have different priorities, stability in life and a wider life experience to provide better context to the material they are learning.

In Tanya’s case she didn’t have the confidence to undertake study in her teens. Now in her mid-thirties, life experience gives her the confidence to take up the challenge.

I have more confidence now, I feel ready.

-Tanya Malone

As Tanya embarks on following her dream let’s look at you. Perhaps life has directed you away from your dream career or maybe you found yourself headed in the wrong direction. The good news is you have the power to change course and your life experience is valuable. In Tanya’s words ‘There really isn’t anything to stop you from going to uni now.’ So if Uni was once your dream perhaps now it could be reality. The only way you will know is to ask. Pick up the phone or go online and contact your local Uni or TAFE and chase your career dream.

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