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Four pathways to get into university

This article appears in: Pathways to Uni
Student in the library reading a book

The path to university study isn’t always linear. Not everybody goes straight from high school into higher education.

In fact over 70% of CDU students are aged over 25. Life experience can certainly make the tertiary experience all the more rewarding, but you might need a hand navigating the different pathways to university if you’re not going straight from year 12 into uni. Here are the most common paths to university courses.


Even if you’re an ‘adult learner’ (this just means you’re aged over 19 at the start your first semester), to gain entry to for most undergraduate degrees you can use your Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) if it’s at least 60, regardless of how long ago this was. You’ll simply complete your application through SATAC

Don’t have an ATAR? Never fear – there are alternative pathways to university

Tertiary Enabling Programs

A free university course that gives you entry into most undergraduate degrees and helps you get back into the swing of study at the same time? Tell me more!  You can complete the program online or on campus in as little as 16 weeks and you’ll have the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence you’ll need to succeed at university. Plus, there’s also Preparation for Tertiary Success; a free course especially designed for Indigenous students which includes face-to-face workshops and online work. 


You can also gain entry to most undergraduate degrees if you’ve successfully completed a VET or TAFE Certificate IV (or higher). A VET course can give you a good ‘taste’ of studying your chosen subject and a solid understanding of key principles that you’ll build upon in your degree. 


STAT is the Special Tertiary Admission Test developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research to assess skills and knowledge commonly considered important for success in tertiary study (for example, you may be required to read and think about a prose passage, interpret a graph, use basic mathematical relationships or make inferences from a table of data). If you think STAT could be the right path for you, you can find out more about STAT here – including practice material and other support. And then when you’re ready, apply through SATAC – you’ll be asked in your application if you want to sit the STAT exam. You’ll then be given a choice of venues and dates depending on when you apply.  

Also good to know…

If you’ve already got some study and life experience behind you, you may be able to fast track your degree with a credit transfer (credit points applied to your course for studies you’ve already completed) and professional assessment (credit points applied on the basis of your professional background). This advanced standing (or ‘exemption’) means you can complete your degree sooner and don’t have to re-learn knowledge and concepts you’ve already covered in prior studies or in your work life. 


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