We hear from a lot of parents with teens nearing the end of their home education journey who are looking for advice about entry to tertiary education. It’s hard to give specific advice about individual courses, because entry requirements vary, not only between institutions but between different courses at the same institution.
Almost 60% of students entering higher education do so without using an ATAR, and home educated students have gone on to every university in Australia. So if your child wants to study, there will be a way.
Please also see our advice article Home Education and TAFE for information on accessing TAFE for students under age 17.
Where to start?
The starting point is to select a few courses of interest, then work backwards to establish entry options. Ideally this will be done when the teen is 15-16, giving you time to arrange to meet any prerequisites. Depending on the course, these might include:
- Open University Australia units
- Certificate course
- Work experience
- STAT test
- Single unit study
- Foundation courses
Some Certificate II, III and IV TAFE courses will not have prerequisites, and entry may only require a Literacy Language and Numeracy assessment (LLN), which is usually around year 10 level for certificate courses.
Check for established pathways.
Many institutions have established pathways. As an example, they might start with a Certificate IV, then progress (with some units credited) to a two year Advanced Diploma, and then on to the degree (with 1.5 years credit).
Direct pathways are most common at institutions like RMIT and Swinburne, which offer TAFE and university courses. However some TAFEs have paired with specific universities, such as Chisholm/La Trobe to offer similar options. And other universities may also offer credit if asked.
Some universities have Foundation courses which accept students who have not done Y12, for example Federation University have a Foundation Access Studies Program (FAST). This 1 semester course will guarantee entry into a wide range of Federation University Australia Higher Education programs at degree level.
Students who have been home educated for 12 months or longer do have a pathway into VCE through Virtual School Victoria, the distance education provider. However, most courses which have an ATAR expectation, may also be entered using Open University units. Although it may seem counterintuitive, Open University can be less work than VCE. Teens choosing Open University are able to focus on subjects of interest and can space the units out over the year, leaving plenty of time for other activities.
Most universities ask for 2-4 Open University units, though some may specify particular units. An advantage of this pathway is that units completed at home may count towards a degree. (Open Universities) Information about minimum ages for various Open Universities
The general enquiry services at most educational institutions are staffed by people who have no information beyond what is available on the website, and may not always give you an accurate answer as a result. If you are following an established pathway, that will be enough. However, if the situation is less clear cut, or you want to find out which Certificate or Open University unit would be best, you need to speak to someone directly involved in the specific course rather than a general admissions office. Open days can be a great way to do this, otherwise email the department and keep corresponding until you are put through to someone who can answer your questions.
Although they are generally aimed at school leavers, some institutions have preferential entry requirements for students who have earned their Queen Scout, Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, who have volunteering experience, or participate in high level sport. If you child falls into any of these categories, it’s worth exploring whether this can count towards meeting entry requirements.
Remember that HEN is here to help, so if you need more advice than is available here, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org