3. Alternative Pathways to Tertiary Education

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

Open University

Many home educated students enroll and study online through Open University. Open University has no prerequisites for many of its units. You can complete a full degree through Open Universities or study several units and then use them to apply for entry to a degree at your chosen university. The number of units necessary may vary according to the subjects studied and the academic results obtained.

Subjects studied at Open University may even give credit for units in the degree you choose to switch to. The student is also eligible for Fee Help or HECS Help when they apply for an entire degree but not for single subjects, which average between approximately $800-$1400 per subject.

Sitting an Exam

A home educated student can choose to sit exams as a way to demonstrate their academic capacity to cope with the course requirements. They could take the SAT such as is offered through Melbourne University for example or with the STAT exams.

One alternative way to get into the course of your choice directly is through the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT 1 is a general test of literacy, numeracy and general reasoning skills accepted for USA college admissions and costs around US$52 with testing venues around Australia. If your student has completed the SAT 1 exam, they will need to manually submit a certified copy of the results to the state’s university admissions centre. As always, please check with the admission centre if your particular university will accept the SAT scores as entry.

The Australian Special Tertiary Admissions Test or STAT exam is a two-hour Multiple Choice test which evaluates skills associated with verbal and quantitative reasoning. The cost is around $150 however do check first if this is an accepted qualification before relying on it for entry into your student’s chosen course. Not all universities will accept this exam for entry.

An exam such as these may be an opportunity for a home educated student to demonstrate to themselves that they have the right skills ready for University level study if they have never sat a formal exam before. The exams are a can be an expensive way to help a students decide on the right path for them, and give them entry into their chosen field of study.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators and Parents Across Australia.

2. Alternative Pathways to Tertiary Education


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.

University of Victoria Launches a New Way to Study Full Time. The Block Method.

There has been an interesting change at how courses are to be delivered at the University of Victoria by 2022. They call it the block model and in reality it would likely give better outcomes for the student. It has already been successfully trialled overseas and is now coming to Australia.

Usually a full time student would be taking 4 different subjects over a whole semester each with their own assessments and exams due around the same time causing a lot of pressure on the learner.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins said The VU Way is a new way of doing university.

“It is a future blueprint for universities that offer a combination of vocational and higher education learning. The Block Mode is a truly student-centric, student-success–led model.

“It offers a unique and empowering learning experience to ensure our students are given every chance to succeed on their own terms, during and after study. In this way, the Block Mode fulfils our vision of creating opportunity and success for any student from any background.”

The block method, compresses a semester’s worth of study of a single subject into a 4 week block with all assessments and exams completed within that period before moving on to the next 4 weeks with the next subject. The block method means you will only ever be studying a single subject at any one time.

That sounds pretty good. A worthy question would be is it possible to do the block method part time? If so, you could organise your life around doing a single subject with 4 weeks of intense study followed by 4 or 8 or even more time off until you tackle the next subject. That would make for an interesting work/study/family/life balance.

For more information on how the Block Method will work click here. To watch a video embedded in Facebook from Victoria University click here.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

Alternative Pathways to Tertiary Studies: Part 1

Over the past 20 years, pathways to tertiary education have expanded dramatically. This has significant implications for students who are both home educated and schooled students.

This is the first of four blog posts on the subject of alternative pathways for home educated students. Be sure to subscribe to read them all to be fully informed on many of your options.

One of the common negative comments heard by the home education community is that home educating your child will rob them of a successful future. This could not be further from the truth.

There is no specific limitation preventing a home educated child gaining access to higher education and a satisfying career.

There are many pathways to careers, and ways to gain access to relevant university courses, TAFE  and other qualifications. Completing year 11-12 in any state or territory in Australia is but one of those pathways; some home educated students may choose to attend mainstream school for years 11 and 12.

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It is not the strongest … that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.

Charles Darwin –

In this series I will be looking at some, but not all pathways into tertiary education.

However, home educated students can enter tertiary studies in any number of other ways. Here are a few of those entry doors:

A TAFE Certificate qualification, studied on campus or online, through TAFE or another private RTO (Registered Training Organisation) can be a good transition from home education to a career, or a pathway to a University degree. A student 15 years or older can apply for many courses without any prerequisites, simply by applying online directly with a course provider. See the Ed Consult Blog for NSW TAFE for more information. Always inquire about any government funded placements when enrolling, especially if you are a health care card holder.

If your student wants to complete a university qualification they will need to determine which pathway to use. Once your student has identified the desired course and the university, consult the Course Handbook which is available on the website of the University, and look at what first year subjects are studied and any assumed knowledge, in order to identify ways of demonstrating the student’s competence. You may contact the university entry administration and discuss your situation with them. Ask for a contact in the specific faculty to talk directly to the Head of Department about prerequisites that that particular course may require. This is also an opportunity to show a student’s portfolio of related work as a simple entry in without any other requirements.

The following options are but a few of the other possible pathways. In my experience of tertiary education, the administrators don’t necessarily know all the answers and can give poor advice, especially as an alternative pathways candidate. Always check with the faculty directly on the requirements.

Most institutions offer alternative entry to applicants who do not meet the usual admission requirements. When considering your application, institutions may take into account the following:

  • Distance education and curriculum providers may provide completion certificates
  • Tertiary preparation courses
  • TAFE courses also offering pathways to university
  • Open University units
  • Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT 1 results
  • Special Tertiary Admissions Test or STAT results
  • Alternative entry schemes and programs which are provided by the universities themselves
  • Professional/paraprofessional qualifications
  • Employment experience
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.

It is really important that you check if any of these options are accepted before choosing this pathway for the particular university course that the student wants to pursue. Ask lots of questions and share your learning with administrators if you think they are giving you the wrong information. Be Brave, be bold but be kind too, and you could be helping fellow home educators who come after you.

Subscribe to Ed Consult blog to stay up to date with this special on Pathways to Tertiary Education series.

Ed Consult would like to thank Beverley Paine, Susan de Wall, Zsa Zsa Kiss, and Tamara Kidd for their support and input into this research project. Thank you.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators and Parents 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.

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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.