Higher education is more accessible than ever these days, which is largely due to the availability of pathway programs. You may have come across the 'pathways' term before, but do you know how to use these pathways as alternative routes to the course and career you want? If you don’t achieve the ATAR that you need or are looking to re-enter education after a long break, then a pathway could be your key to tertiary study.
Investigate your options
First and foremost, the most important thing is to have a goal to work towards. When you have a goal it’s much easier to figure out how to get there — and, trust us, where there is a will there is a way.
Just say you have your heart set on becoming a qualified accountant. To do this, you will need to complete a bachelor degree in accounting at your chosen institution. But what if you don’t get the marks you need? You could find out whether the institution offers any tertiary preparation courses (such as an associate degree or a foundation program) that will provide entry into the degree. You could also investigate whether there are any VET courses in the accounting field that could act as a stepping stone. Some of these may even grant credit towards the degree to account for units you have already studied.
See a student adviser
When it comes to using pathways, the higher education institution you are looking to ultimately enter will be the judge of whether your pathway qualifies you to enter their course. For this reason, it is vitally important to talk to course advisers at the institution to see which pathways they will accept (and perhaps which ones they prefer). If you try to enter the institution through a pathway that they don’t recognise, you might not be accepted and could end up back at square one.
Search for pathways at partner institutions
Some higher education institutions have partner VET institutions or foundation colleges that offer direct pathways into their courses. Some institutions might even offer their own direct pathways. Direct pathways offer a clear path into your course that is recognised by the institution. Most have set credit arrangements, so it will be immediately clear how long it will take you to complete the pathway and how much credit you will be granted towards the degree. Taking a direct pathway could save you time and money, but might also mean that you receive preference over those students entering the course through an unofficial pathway.
Look for seamless qualifications
Seamless qualifications allow you to progress through the qualification levels without you even knowing. Victoria University’s proposed new low-ATAR Career Start bachelor degrees provide a great example. Instead of completing a lower-level qualification at a VET institute and then applying to transfer into a degree, these courses will allow students who would not normally meet the entry requirements for a degree to enter a specially designed degree that advances students through the qualification levels without having to apply for transfers. Students are able to exit the qualification early before completing the degree with a diploma or an associate degree. Similar schemes are offered at a number of institutions. Students looking for a hassle-free pathway option should definitely investigate these types of programs.