If you’re worried about meeting the entry requirements for your dream course in Australia, we’re here to tell you that you don’t need to stress! There are a number of pathway options available at all qualification levels to allow you to easily work your way up the qualification ladder.
The advantages of pathways
A pathway involves taking a slightly different route to the course you would like to study, allowing you to pursue your dream course even if you don’t initially meet the entry requirements. You may also want to begin your studies at a lower level to get some experience before entering the higher education sector, or simply to see if the field you’ve chosen is right for you. In some cases you may be awarded credit for the study you have already completed once you enter your degree. This is called Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and could mean that you finish your course at the same time as students who were admitted directly. Pathway study also gives you extra time to settle into Australian life, improve your English language skills and gain valuable skills and knowledge for future study.
Pathways into Australian degrees
- Foundation and bridging courses: These courses help prepare students for undergraduate study by covering the essential skills and knowledge needed for higher education. Foundation courses are offered by TAFE institutes, universities and some private colleges and are typically one year in length. Some offer students guaranteed entry into a relevant undergraduate degree, allowing them to enter the second year of the program once they complete the foundation course. Before commencing a foundation course, it is important to check that it offers a pathway into the degree you wish to study. Bridging courses aim to provide students with ‘assumed knowledge’ in specialist areas such as mathematics or science. They are shorter and more intensive than foundation courses and are designed to help students meet prerequisite requirements for a course. Entry into foundation and bridging courses usually requires you to have completed, or almost completed, your home country’s secondary school certificate. See Foundation courses for more information. You might also consider a course in the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students sector, which can help you meet the English language requirements for your course.
- Vocational Education and Training (VET) study: VET is offered by private colleges and government-owned TAFE institutes, as well as some universities that run a TAFE sector. VET courses are lower-level qualifications than those in the higher education sector and include certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas. They are generally much more accessible than bachelor degrees and are a great pathway into further study if you are struggling to meet the requirements for a university course. VET courses can be studied in just about any field, including business, creative arts, health and science. Because VET study is typically more practical and ‘hands-on’, it can provide a very good background for more theoretical study in the higher education sector. When selecting a VET course, it is important to do your research to see if it will provide an appropriate pathway into your desired bachelor degree and if you will be granted credit for your studies. Entry into VET courses usually requires a level of study equivalent to Australian Year 10, 11 or 12. See Vocational Education and Training (VET) for more information.
- Higher education pathways: There are also a number of pathway options within the higher education sector. You may choose to apply for a course with more manageable entry requirements then transfer into your desired degree (applying for an arts degree with the intention of transferring to law, for example). Entry requirements and entry difficulty vary between institutions, so you are likely to find a course to suit your needs. You can also think about entering your chosen field at postgraduate level once you’ve graduated from an undergraduate degree. This is very common in fields such as medicine, where many students (both local and international) study a field such as health science before starting a medicine degree as graduates. Postgraduate qualifications range from graduate certificates to doctoral degrees. See Higher education — undergraduate and Higher education — postgraduate for more information.
Before submitting course applications, it is best to contact institutions to discuss which pathway is best for entry into your course. You can contact institutions using our enquiry form.