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Home ed students have been accepted into every major Australian university. Home ed students and their families need to be pro-active in terms of investigating the options and deciding on the best route for each student. We provide the following information to get you started.
You may find it beneficial to go to some university open days a couple of years before you plan to apply in order to check the requirements for the particular courses and universities you are interested in. Talk to the staff (either at the open day or via their admittance offices) about the courses you are interested in and what the entry requirements for them are. Don’t be put off if their immediate response is that you need VCE. Instead, explain that you are a home educated student and ask about the alternative entry pathways listed below to find out which one/s they recommend for entry to the course you wish to access. For individual stories of home educated students and the pathways they have taken with further education see Issue 128 of Otherways.
If you know of other pathways please share the information with the home education community by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The application process
- The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre handles most university applications on behalf of Victorian universities.
- For NSW see UAC
- For Queensland see QTAC
- For Western Australia see TISC
- For South Australia & Northern Territory see SATAC
- University of Tasmania handles its own admissions and those for Australian Maritime College
- Bond University on the Gold Coast and Notre Dame University (Fremantle, Sydney and Broome) also handle their own admissions.
There are two types of application – a year 12 application and a non-year 12 application. If you have completed VCE, yours is a standard application. Home educated students without VCE use the non-year 12 application route quite successfully despite the fact that VCE is the best known university-entrance. Basically, universities use VCE scores to compare students’ results and offer positions to those with the highest results. What you need to do is prove yourself in some other way and, from the university’s point of view, have something they can use to compare you to other students.
A Non-Year 12 application
This pathway is basically for mature age students but home-ed students have successfully used it to gain university entrance. The eligibility criteria states that you must be 23 years or older and have no qualifications from the last seven years that could be used as a basis for entry. It also states that people who are not eligible under this pathway may still apply as a non-year 12 applicant. You apply through your state’s university admissions organisation (eg VTAC) as a non-year 12 applicant (applications are online) and either using Open University/TAFE results, bridging courses etc or sitting the STAT or SAT test in order to have a university entrance score. You need to register to sit the SAT or STAT yourself. You will need to achieve a comparable score with the ATAR entrance score required for your course. The scores required vary according to course, university and application year. STAT results are automatically sent to the university for you, if you use the SAT, you need to submit your results. Applications open in August and close in September each year. Late applications are possible with a late fee.
It is a good idea to work through the practice application procedures on the website so that you know what information to have on hand and can plan your responses before beginning the formal application. Remember to tick ‘no’ when asked whether you have completed an alternative year 12 course (that refers to Baccalaureate, not home education).
Special Entry Admissions Test (STAT) Many universities accept the Australian STAT aptitude test for mature age entrants and other non-standard applicants. It and the SAT are ways to demonstrate your ability and readiness to undertake university level study. There are two sections – one multiple choice which is mainly maths and one written English section. Find out more at the ACER site. STAT preparation courses are available – see VTAC list. In some instances you can use the STAT to apply direct to a university (with direct or mid-year applications) and you can also use it as part of a VTAC application.
The American Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) The tests are run in Melbourne about once a month and result in a university entrance score comparable to an ATAR. All the info is on the US College Board site. Test bookings are required about a month ahead. Even if you are not paying for the online course you need to register on the website to book the exams and also you can do a free practice test online. They also have a book available with information on how to sit the exams and how they are marked which includes practice tests. The SAT has three sections: Critical Reading, Maths & Writing. In some instances you can use the SATs to apply direct to a university (with direct or mid-year applications) and you can also use it as part of a VTAC application.
Bridging Courses There are a number of university bridging courses designed for non-year 12 applicants which can be useful for home educated applicants.
- Some universities have their own, so explore the websites of nearby universities e.g. Curtain University UniReady Enabling Program.
- Some TAFE institutions such as Box Hill also have them.
- Foundation Access Studies Program (FAST) at Federation College is an alternate pathway to tertiary study. It is a 13 week fulltime course designed to prepare adults for university courses. Home educated students have successfully used this pathway. See University without VCE by Jim Batt.
- Unilearn was set up to assist people meet year 11 & 12 prerequisites for university entrance outside the normal school system. They have bridging courses in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Academic Literacy Skills, Study Skills. They also provide bridging courses used by the Australia Defence Forces, Qantas Airlines, Melbourne University and Bond University.
Open Universities Australia (OUA) This a consortium of Australian universities and colleges offering university units to the general public on a user-pays basis. These are regular university subjects, the same as students enrolled in full university courses study. Many home educated students use OUA as a university entrance route. It is possible to do your whole degree online or you can do a couple of subjects and then use your instead of an ATAR score for a non-year 12 application through VTAC. Subjects are studied externally using the internet and resources that are mailed to you. There are over 700 subjects to choose from.
- There is no published minimum age for studying through Open Universities and we have known 11 year olds to enrol in the past, however please make sure to check for any new age requirements for a course you wish to enrol in. There are no entry requirements for many first year undergraduate subjects and those that do have entry requirements can be accessed by completing other units first.
- There are four study periods in the year beginning in March, June, September and December and each subject goes for about 13 weeks.
- They offer Unilearn bridging units in areas such as mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics for people who wish to improve their skills before attempting a university subject in these areas.
- There is a list of recommended first units for people who are just beginning university studies.
- Subjects costs are : Undergraduate subjects vary from $850 to $1500, Unilearn subjects vary from $125 to $800, PREP units range from free to $125
- Fee Help is a loan scheme (like HELP) that may be accessed to defer the cost until the student is earning an income.
- A student enrolled in two subjects is considered to be a full time university student.
- Completing 2-4 subjects with good results will get you into a degree using the non-year 12 pathway.
- Completed subjects can be credited towards a degree at most universities, with Monash the notable exception.
- See also Studying Through Open University
University of New England has a free Pathways Enabling Course. Study is online and can be spread over up to four years.
Direct or Mid-year Entry Each year after all the rounds of university offers, universities have some vacant places in certain courses. Direct application to the universities at this time can be successful. You will need to provide some evidence of university readiness – eg OUA results, the STAT test or a portfolio of work. Similarly, many universities take direct mid-year applications to fill places vacated by students who have dropped out.
Melbourne University Community Access Program (CAP) This program allows any member of the community, regardless of age or academic experience, to study any first year unit of any faculty at Melbourne Uni. CAP students study alongside undergraduates. Some people use the CAP program to study a subject out of interest. It can also be used as a university entrance pathway in which case you need to enrol in four units over one or two semesters and achieve an average result of 75% across those four units. You are then eligible to enter the degree course. Before enrolling in the CAP program, check the entry requirements for the degree course you wish to enter so that you can match the CAP units you undertake to meet these requirements. For example if your target degree requires Year 12 Physics, enrolling in the Physics Fundamentals unit would meet the Physics requirement while bypassing VCE. This is quite an expensive route as the cost per unit is around $3000 (it varies with the particular subjects chosen) but, once you gain entry to your degree course, you can apply for credit for the completed units and that credit is usually granted. Once you are offered a full university place on a Commonwealth Supported basis, the cost per unit lowers to around $1000 per unit.
Non-award Units or Single Subject Entry Many universities have similar programmes to Melbourne University’s CAP programme but on a less formal basis. Search your chosen university’s website for “non-award”. The arrangement is that non-award students enrol in selected subjects on a full fee-paying basis and then, once they have a specified number of subjects (e.g. for Macquarie University it is four units, for some universities and courses, one subject is sufficient) and meet the minimum result requirements in those units, they can apply for a Commonwealth Supported Place in the degree course. Depending on the particular university and their fee structure, this is not an expensive entry route.
Individual University Entrance Procedures Some universities have their own entrance exam. Some have an interview and portfolio process for accepting home-ed students. Talk to the admissions staff for the course you wish to apply to, explain your situation and experience and see if you can negotiate entry by demonstrating your experience and ability. This is the primary university entrance route for home educated students in WA with each university considering student portfolios, some in combination with a letter from the Education Department. See the website of our sister group the Home Education Western Australia for details.
Access Melbourne Program This program is designed to increase the participation of students from diverse backgrounds to Melbourne University. You spply for course via VTAC, submit an application for consideration under one of the categories for Access Melbourne, register to sit the STAT or SAT and submit your test results. Home educated students have been admitted via this pathway under the ‘disadvantaged social or educational background’ category. Check all the categories and see if any match your circumstances.
The TAFE Route You can enter university via TAFE. TAFE certificates and diplomas, as well as being qualifications in their own right, can also be used as entrance tickets to universities. Depending on your chosen field, a Certificate IV could get you into a degree while a Diploma may get you into a degree at second year level. Talk to your chosen university about their TAFE articulation arrangements or check under ‘pathways’ on TAFE or university websites. Open Learning TAFE also has loads of courses to choose from and is well worth a visit. Open Colleges is another option offering online and distance ed certificates – many nationally accredited.
MIBT Pathway The Melbourne Institute of Business Technology is open to applications from home educated students. The MIBT has two campuses – Melbourne (Burwood), and Geelong (Waurn Ponds) and offer seven different diplomas (Commerce, Management, Computing, Media and Communication, Engineering, Science & Health Sciences). Students apply directly to MIBT who will consider a range of evidence eg STAT test results, Open University Units, folio of work, competition results, personal supporting statements, VCE, or an interview process. They also have their own MIBT entrance tests to assess Maths and Chemistry proficiency if necessary. Places are then offered on a full fee-paying basis and run for one year. Students who successfully complete their diploma (with a Weighted Average Mark WAM of 60%) are guaranteed entry into a Commonwealth Supported Place in a Deakin degree at one of Deakin’s campuses at second year level the following year. A 70% WAM may be required to gain entry to the campus of your choice – depending on availability. This is a pricey university route ($15400 for the year for Commerce, Computing, Management, Media and Communication and $17600 for the year for Engineering, Health Sciences, Science) but Fee Help is available and you will skip the first year of university fees (between $4249 and $8859 depending on the course) and also have no VCE fees.
Mature Age Entry Some home ed students choose to work for a couple of years and then apply to uni as mature age students via the non-year 12 application process.
On-Line University Courses Many universities worldwide are now putting many of their subjects on-line. Just google for the course you are looking for eg. “Zoology degree online”. You can also use the course finder on VTAC or UAC to help you find courses of interest and then check if they are offered online.
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) Since 2012, a new free education movement has begun with universities worldwide opening up online courses to huge audiences. Many of these are free and although most do not result in formal qualifications, some have the option to do the course for free and then pay to sit exams if you wish. Options include Coursera, edX, and Udacity. There is an Australian MOOC OpenLearning. This is an expanding area of education with more courses coming online all the time. MOOC list is a starting point for upcoming courses from various MOOCs.Last updated on