Entry Pathways

Many people enter university on the basis of their Higher School Certificate (HSC) performance and Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) score. However, there are other entry pathways that can help you get into a university course if your ATAR result did not meet the minimum course requirements, or if you are not entering university directly from high school.

An ‘entry pathway’ means a process you can use to gain a place in a university course.

Some processes are designed to help you ‘boost’ your ATAR score to improve your chances for getting into university. Other processes are based on entry on criteria other than your HSC.

It’s important that you learn about these lesser–known pathways into university, so that you can use the process or processes most likely to give you the best advantage.

Choosing the best university pathway for you is an important and perhaps complicated decision.

Here are some suggestions about how to get about making this decision:

  • Talk to more than one expert to get an opinion about which process best suits you. This will help to check the accuracy of information given to you and to hear different perspectives
  • Think about the advantages and drawbacks of each potentially suitable process. For example, compare the costs, times and personal details that may need to be disclosed for the purpose of your application
  • Consider whether you could use more than one pathway to improve your chances For example, undertake a TAFE Tertiary Certificate Preparation and use an alternative entry scheme that targets students making the transition from TAFE to university.

Types of Pathways

There are various types of processes that are available. Access university Admission Criteria as outlined by UAC (opens in a new window) and review some of the pathways available below.

Australian Tertiary Admission Rank Score (ATAR)The main process for HSC students to enter university. ATAR gives a numerical measure to the overall academic performance of an HSC student compared to other HSC students across Australia. University course places are awarded to applicants who have achieved a minimum ATAR benchmark score or above, set for each university course (see specific university course handbook and UAC guide for specific details).
Education Access Schemes (EAS)Designed to provide assistance to students who have faced educational disadvantage through year 11 and/or 12. Essentially EAS programs allow entry to students with a lower ATAR than the usual ATAR cut off (the minimum ATAR score accepted for entry into the course). The EAS, therefore, balances the effect of the student’s educational disadvantage on their ability to reach the marks needed to get into university.
Alternative entry schemes

Designed for applicants not using an HSC as the basis for their application for entry into university. Instead, individual universities set special entry criteria which do not rely on HSC results. These schemes are usually targeted at specific groups.

Access information about alternative entry to university (opens in a new window). Here you will find explanations of various alternative entry schemes to assist students with disability and mature aged applicants (over 21 years) gain admission to university study.

Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT)Entry using STAT results involves sitting for a written test to assess academic skills. The university uses your STAT score to decide whether you meet the entry requirement for the course you have applied for.
University bridging coursesA course requires a prerequisite (for example a level of maths or science) in an area that you have not studied or worked with before, a bridging course may help you to ‘bridge the gap’ in your knowledge and gain admission to the course.
Non award coursesThese courses, run by universities, are similar in content and assessment to units offered in higher education degrees (such as graduate certificates and diplomas). Satisfactory performance in these non-award units can be used to apply for entry into university. See individual university websites for more detail.
TAFE/Tertiary Preparation CertificateDesigned to teach students skills and content needed to complete a university course. Satisfactory performance in this course can be used to apply for university entry into many courses at most universities.
Other courses - VETThere are specific VET courses that can lead you into a related university course. A university may take into account your results from VET courses that are relevant to the university course you are applying for. Find out about VET Pathways (opens in a new window) and specifically TAFE as a Pathway to a university degree (opens in a new window).
Mid-Year entryMid-year entry is worth considering if you need time off finishing school, you missed out on a place in the main round, you chose the wrong course or needed flexible study options. Mid–year intake is not available for all courses, so you should check with each institution to see which programs are eligible.

Find out more information about Pathways to University study (opens in a new window).