2. Alternative Pathways to Tertiary Education

TAFE and TPCs

This is the second blog in the series on alternative pathways for entry into Tertiary education. To get the full story, click on the links below.

For home educators who purchase a complete curriculum some providers offer accredited courses to transition to university. Confirm which universities accept these courses before committing to this pathway.

Tertiary Preparation Courses or TPCs can be completed through TAFE, other Registered Training Authorities or at universities, and will provide students with an ATAR. The ATAR is the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. It may interest you to know that a mere quarter of all university admissions now use the ATAR system so clearly the majority of uni students are using alternative pathways. Not just home educated students.

TPCs are usually designed for applicants who haven’t completed Year 12 at school. Minimum age requirements may apply and the length of these courses differs between institutions. For admission purposes, most institutions will consider the tertiary preparation courses offered by other institutions. You are strongly advised, however, to check which courses each institution considers.

As an example, TAFE NSW offers a TPC, teaching

  • How to apply ethical practices in your studies.
  • How to read and respond to written text for further study.
  • Core essentials in mathematics, science, humanities and English studies, and more.

The Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation is available to study full-time, part-time or through flexible learning options.

On completion, the student will be awarded the Tertiary Preparation Certificate (TPC), a qualification recognised by the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), NSW universities and some interstate universities.

By way of example, from TAFE in NSW:

Western Sydney University applicants, for TPC graduates gaining a TES (Tertiary Entrance Score) of 168 out of 300 or higher, and for Charles Sturt University applicants (a TES of 157 out of 300 or higher), have guaranteed entry into many bachelor degree programs.

Some universities even offer a TPC for free such as Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory. So keep an eye out for savings like these.

Video 2 in a mini series designed to assist home educating parents transition their students to University

So keep in mind that each TAFE or RTO may have specific relationships with universities around the country that make the pathway clearer for your student.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators and Parents Across Australia.

NSW in Focus – TAFE Update

The NSW Minister for Skills, John Barilaro, announced in 2017 that home educated students 15 years and over registered with NESA as secondary students could enrol in Smart and Skilled funded courses at TAFE and private RTOs in NSW. This greatly reduces the fees to access these courses and ensures that this remains a viable pathway to work or further education.

Click here for the eligible courses for Smart and Skilled funded placements.

The simple eligible student criteria includes:

  • aged 15 years or older
  • live in New South Wales
  • an Australian citizen, permanent resident, humanitarian visa holder or New Zealand citizen

There is a specific fact sheet for home educated kids interested in a TAFE course or Registered Training Organisation (RTO) here.

The fees that students pay vary widely depending on a variety of circumstances. Students with a disability do not have to pay any fees. Students in low income households (in receipt of the full Family Tax benefit A or youth allowance), or who are Aboriginal, have low fees. If students do not fit into these categories their fees will be more – up to several thousand dollars depending on the course. TAFE has a fee calculator on their website that you can use to help determine what the fees will likely be.  

It is no longer a requirement for registered home educated students to have a year 10 certificate for admission to Smart and Skilled funded NSW TAFE courses. If you are asked by TAFE or the private RTO for a year 10 certificate, explain that the student is registered for home education and meets the requirements for eligibility for a Smart and Skilled funded course. 

There have been some stories in 2018-2019 where home educated kids were being rejected as not eligible for Smart and Skilled funded placements. This was usually down to poorly trained staff and the best ways to deal with a difficult gatekeeper is to ask:

  • Firstly, hand the TAFE admin the Smart and Skilled PDF.
  • If that doesn’t work, ask to speak to the supervisor.
  • If that doesn’t work, contact Smart and Skilled directly on this link and tell them the branch of TAFE or the RTO you are dealing with and get the answers your child deserves.

If you have experienced discriminatory practices in your state or territory with regards to higher education access, please email at contact@edconsult.com.au or leave a comment below this blog or the YouTube video. 

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

4. Alternative Pathways to Tertiary Education

This is the fourth and final blog in this special series on alternative pathways for entry into Tertiary education. To get the full story, click on this link here.

Many universities offer alternative pathways courses, allowing a student to begin studying at the University of their choice, while gaining admission to their chosen degree through enrolling in single subjects first.

For some degree courses with higher ATAR entry requirements such as medicine of Vet science, it is possible to transfer from a different degree. By choosing appropriate courses in the first semester, and achieving good results, transferring is not difficult. Contacting the institution for advice is recommended.

Since January 2020, both RMIT and UNE have make a policy preventing students under 16 years of age from applying for courses. This change is new and without any justification provided. Subscribe to Ed Consult to keep up to date with changes such as these.

A good investigation into which university to choose should also include a look into feedback from student experience, graduate employment, Graduate Satisfaction and Employer Satisfaction. Some students will just have to use the local university, but if you can choose, than choose with confidence through Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching. Simply type in the course and institution and see what others have to say.

When applying, do also include evidence of any paid or unpaid work experience that is related to the field of study the student is applying for. This could be a letter of reference from the employer or evidence of a period of working in a particular industry through payslips.

Photo by Nick Demou on Pexels.com

Apprenticeships are another pathway, combining TAFE study with paid practical work in order to complete the qualification. Apply directly for an apprenticeship through 1300 Apprenticeship online or apply through an employer such as a local hairdresser or electrician for example. Any certificate IV course is considered as the same level as the final year of high school and is a clear pathway to study at university.

Also, remember to apply for any scholarships or fee reduction opportunities. These are often found on the website of the institution. There are so many opportunities out there, however you may need to ask a lot of questions in order to find out about them.

Home educated students can begin in their early teens to explore careers, and pathways to further education to help them to fulfill their personal talents and aspirations. Non-year 12 certified students can access a wide variety of pathways to enter tertiary education, and to gain qualifications towards any career they choose, and anyone who suggests otherwise is simply wrong.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators and Parents Across Australia.