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University pathways: the facts

University pathways: the facts

If you’re thinking about going to university, you have no doubt looked into typical entry requirements. For some students, even if university is the end goal, prerequisites like a top ATAR can seem out of reach. Others, including adults considering mature age entry, may be wary of stepping straight into a degree after years in the workforce. Here's what you need to know about uni pathways.

There’s a pathway to suit all types of students

Pathways come in all shapes and sizes, meaning there’s an option to suit you. You might start out in a tertiary enabling program, which equip students with the skills to pursue university study; complete a streamed foundation studies course with entry into the corresponding bachelor degree; try your hand at a single subject before enrolling into a full degree; enrol at a lower-demand university with the intention to transfer; or pursue a lower-level qualification in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. VET study is one of the most popular options, allowing students to complete a certificate or diploma at a Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institute or private Registered Training Organisation (RTO), typically with more accessible entry requirements, and use credits towards a qualification in the higher education sector. You can read about a student's journey below.

Linh Quang Nguyen — Victoria University


Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology and Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering) (Honours)

Since 13 years of age I have always dreamed about becoming an engineer, but I started my career in 1993 as a computer technician in Vietnam. My family then immigrated to Australia and I decided to pursue my ambitions of becoming an engineer. I chose to enrol into TAFE because it had been many years since I practised my maths and physics skills.

Completing the TAFE diploma also meant that I could start the bachelor degree in the third year, having received advanced standing for the two years at TAFE. This worked out great because not only could I start learning maths and physics at a level that was easier to understand but I could also finish my studies in four years. In addition, I will receive both an Advanced Diploma of Engineering and a Bachelor of Engineering. I found the one-to-one mentoring in all subject areas at TAFE extremely useful. I continued to attend maths, physics and English writing mentoring at university.

Pathways don’t necessarily mean taking the ‘long’ way

With a broad range of pathway options, you can rest assured that taking a different route won’t leave you catching up while you watch your friends graduate. Many pathway options provide streams or direct-entry routes into corresponding higher education programs, while Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) schemes allow students to receive credit for study completed before commencing a degree. Chat to institutions to get information about their pathway arrangements.

You will gain valuable skills for further study

One of the biggest benefits of pathways is that they provide the skills and knowledge required for more advanced study, including courses at university level. Higher education course entry assumes that students have a certain amount of knowledge in the topic area they’ll study, which can make life difficult if they don’t! Taking a pathway can leave you with a stronger base and skill set for higher-level study.

You will be better prepared for the higher education environment

No matter what pathway you choose, it will leave you better prepared for the higher education environment. Heading into a university course straight out of school or after a stint in the workforce can be daunting. Students face a new style of teaching, new classmates and teachers, and of course: new material! If you pursue a pathway, you will benefit from a smoother transition into the higher education environment — or an even smoother process if you head into a higher-level qualification at the same institution.

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