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How to get into higher education

Job-ready Graduates Package

On 19 June 2020 the Australian Government announced the Job-ready Graduates Package (the package). Changes proposed in this package affect student contributions and provide additional support for students in regional and remote Australia. The majority of these changes will commence on 1 January 2021, subject to the passage of legislation.

We encourage both current and new students who will be studying from 1 January 2021 to talk to their current or intended higher education provider to confirm how these changes may affect their individual circumstances. Further information can be found on the Job-ready Graduates Package page https://www.dese.gov.au/job-ready-graduates-package.

More information on the additional support for students in regional and remote areas, including the new Tertiary Access Payment and the guaranteed Commonwealth Supported places for Indigenous students can be found on the More opportunities for regional students page https://dese.gov.au/more-opportunities-regional-australia.



After finishing Year 12, you can use your ATAR/OP score to apply for a place at a university or higher education provider.

You apply through your state or Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC):

You may be able to apply for your course directly through the provider. A TAC is not the only option.

Places in courses are offered through a series of offer rounds. In the second and third offer rounds, universities or higher education providers will sometimes consider lower ATAR/OP scores. You could receive a late entry offer from a provider after offer rounds have been completed.


VET qualification

You can get into higher education using your vocational education and training (VET) qualification if it is in a similar topic. Your provider will decide what VET studies they will accept as entry for their courses.

A VET qualification might be a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education, a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety or a Diploma in Information Technology.

You can do a VET course at a TAFE or other private VET provider. Compare VET courses and their prices on the My Skills website.

You can sometimes get guaranteed entry into an undergraduate course by completing a diploma at the same provider. Check with different providers to see if this is possible for you.


Recognition for previous study or work

Contact your provider and ask about:

  • Credit transfers (also known as advanced standing) - to recognise academic experience and previous study relevant to your chosen course.
  • Recognition of prior learning (RPL) – to recognise work, life experiences and achievements relevant to your chosen course.


Enabling or sub-bachelor course

Sub-bachelor courses – will lead to a qualification (like a higher education diploma, advanced diploma or associate degree). They will help you develop skills in academic studying and writing and ease you into university study. If you study at a sub-bachelor level, you can receive credit for it.

Enabling courses –  give you the opportunity to develop skills in specific prerequisite areas (e.g. English language or chemistry) in the form of 'bridging units'. Bridging units can help you meet the entry requirements for a bachelor-level course. They are usually offered over one study period or semester.


Other options

Ask your provider about bonus points or the Educational Access Scheme. Year 12 leavers could get bonus points if they have experienced economic disadvantage, attended a regional or rural school, or other personal circumstances apply.

Check if there are ways to improve your university or higher education application. For example, your provider may accept school or principal recommendations (some providers in NSW and ACT participate in the ‘Schools Recommendation Scheme’).


Entry pathways to higher education may differ between providers, even for a similar course. Contact your intended provider and check the requirements with them.

Check out the Beyond School Study Guide for more information on how to get into higher education.

Victor got a FEE-HELP loan to study full-time online. Read his story