Open up a world of opportunity with a degree
We're lucky to have some of the world's best universities in Australia, so start your career on the right foot
Here's what you need to know about going to uni
Choosing to pursue a university degree could set you off on a different path – a degree unlocks the door to many occupations, gives you a chance to expand your knowledge and can give you an edge in a competitive job market.
Going to university is a big commitment, so before you apply learn about what it could mean for your career.
Expand your knowledge
University combines theoretical learning with technical exploration, giving you a well-rounded knowledge base
Gain a recognised qualification
Your degree will be recognised across Australia and around the world
Build a network
Your network can help you access more opportunities than you could find on your own
Broaden your horizons
A degree will open doors to more opportunities, and can take you further in your career
Think you can't afford to go to uni?
Just about every student is able to take advantage of government support that allows you to go to uni even if funds are tight at home.
You simply pay your student debt back with your tax once you reach a certain income threshold.
Plus, many universities and affiliated organisations offer scholarships and bursaries to make studying even more affordable.
How do I apply?
Application Rounds begin around August each year, but you need to check the rules for your state on their Tertiary Admissions Centre website.
Lots of people at university have gone there straight after high school (it’s around 75% depending on the university and course). When you finish Year 12, you receive your ATAR or OP, which you can use to apply to university. These rules and the cutoff dates change slightly from year to year, so always make sure you check your Tertiary Admissions Centre when you start planning your application.
Choose what you want to study
Before you do anything else, decide on the subject you would like to study. For example, do you want to study medicine, marketing, or management? What gets you excited and motivated for uni?
Then, research all the different courses available in that field. If you want to study medicine, then learn about the different types of medicine courses, from biomedicine through to nursing, pharmacy, and even physiotherapy.
If you have an idea about what you might like but don’t know the specifics, then it’s a great idea to choose a general degree – you can always change your major after first year if it turns out to be not your cup of tea.
For example, if you wanted to study marketing then you may pick a Bachelor of Business and intend to major in Marketing. But the first year subjects for all the majors are the same, so if you get through first year and decide you’d prefer to do Economics instead then you haven’t lost any time.
You can search for undergraduate courses here:
Find somewhere to study
Once you have narrowed down the field of study you would like to apply for then you can start to look for institutions that offer courses in that area.
Start by checking if that study area is covered at the universities you’d most like to attend – each university produces a Handbook, it’s a comprehensive guide to the university, its structure and details about admissions, enrolments and studying at that institution. Go to their website and enter “handbook” into the search box or google e.g. JCU University Handbook and click on the relevant link.
If you only want to choose institutions from the one state (as in, everything you want to study is in Melbourne), then you only need to submit the one application. But if you’d like to widen your options you could apply for university in different states – technically this would increase your chances of getting an offer, but you’d have to be willing to move interstate.
Set up your account
Go to their website and set up your account online – our tip is to find a PC because the systems can be a bit tricky on a mobile device.
You’ll need to put together documents before you can submit your application, such as your Academic Transcript and your student number. Check if your chosen degree has any other application requirements, such as extra tests, auditions, interviews or portfolios, and if you’re applying for anything like special consideration or financial support you may need evidence to support your application.
Every one will have different requirements – the trick is to make sure you work out what yours are and submit everything before the due date.
Choose your preferences
No matter what else you do, always list the maximum number of preferences allowed to improve your chances of getting an offer. ATARs can be surprising, so cover all your bases with a couple of ‘dream courses’ (in case you do better than you hoped), a few safe options, and courses you expect to be able to get.
Don’t put more prestigious courses above the ones you really want – put the course you really want first, or you could end up doing something you don’t really want.
You can also change preferences right up until you get an offer (and even after your offers start coming in), so there’s no need to agonise about your decision.
Submit your application
Each year the University application centres publish application cut-off dates for the various rounds of university offers. This information is sometimes not released until July or August, and each year we post the dates as soon as we have them below.
Make sure you’ve paid any fees and submitted your application correctly, or you could end up paying hefty late fees.
University Open Days
Generally, Australian Universities hold an ‘Open Day’ in August or September each year. It’s your chance to get an up-close look at all the universities you’re interested in, so you can make an informed decision about your future.
Sometimes faculties will hold their own smaller open days, or a university will say they’re ‘open all year round’ and you can easily make an appointment to visit.
We list every open day and info session in our Newsletters and subscribers can find all the dates in our Calendar.
Things don't always go to plan
While the majority of students still get to uni the ‘traditional’ way, universities offer a range of Alternative Pathways to help you reach your goals if you don’t fit the ‘traditional’ student mould.
Apply for Early Entry
Many universities use a combination of results, recommendations from teachers, and evidence of participation in sport, volunteering or extra-curricular activities to offer some students a place even before the HSC exams take place.
Take a Gap Year
Use the time before you launch into commitment-filled real life to travel or work before you go to uni. You could choose to apply in the usual rounds, then defer for a year, or wait to apply until you are ready to apply after your Gap Year.
Complete a Preparatory Program
If you didn’t get the marks you wanted then you could enrol in a program through your uni that allows you to take some units, as well as gain essential study skills, then transfer into a degree program on successful completion of the course.
Go to TAFE or Another College
Why not see what’s on offer elsewhere? Many TAFE Institutions and Private Colleges offer degree-level courses, or you could complete a VET qualification and use the units to gain credit towards a degree.
Have you been disadvantaged at school?
Sometimes, things don’t go to plan.
If you’ve been affected by circumstances beyond your control in Year 11 or 12, you could apply through your state’s Educational Access Scheme. Generally, you could benefit from bonus points, or from places specifically set aside for disadvantaged students.
There are lots of reasons why you might be classified as ‘disadvantaged’, and some of them are less obvious than others. For example, you can claim under some schemes if you’ve moved interstate during Year 11 or 12, or if you’ve had a serious illness in the family. You can even claim if you’ve had to live alone, cared for a young child, or lived in a rural or remote area.
Each state’s scheme is slightly different, and you’ll need to check directly with each institution before applying.