Experience counts when it comes to uni entry

26 Jul 2023

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Did you know that over a third of Australian students starting university are more than 24 years old? And tens of thousands are over 40? They all came to their courses with different life experiences and ambitions.

Contrary to popular belief, getting in to uni as a mature-age – or post-school – applicant is not based on your age. There’s no ‘automatic entry’ for, say, applicants over 21 years. But if you’ve undertaken post-school studies or spent some time in the workforce, your experience can set you on the path to tertiary study.

Each institution will assess your experience differently. Some will consider all of your qualifications, studies, employment and professional experience and give each a different weight; some will focus only on your highest qualification.

This means that it’s difficult to give general advice about what you’ll need to get in to your dream course. But we can give you our top three tips for what to do before you apply!

UAC’s top three tips for post-school applicants

1. We can’t stress this enough: contact the undergraduate admissions office at the institution you want to attend and ask them if your qualifications and experience meet the admission criteria for the specific course you want to study. And if they fall short, ask them what else you need to do. The criteria for one uni will be different to the next, so consider all the institutions that offer your preferred course.

2. In your application, include all your complete and incomplete studies and qualifications (including your Year 12 studies and AQF Certificate IIIs and above), even if you think they’re too old. Some unis will still consider them. However, the following qualifications won’t be assessed by tertiary institutions, so there’s no need to include them in your application:

  • Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificates I and II
  • Statements of Attainment
  • TAFE Statements
  • courses delivered by Australian private providers that are not accredited (or accreditation can’t be proved). Only courses accredited under the Australian Qualifications Framework, or by the relevant state/territory accreditation authority, will be taken into account.

3. If you don’t think you’ll be competitive for a degree course, consider also applying for a lower level – or pathway – course, such as a diploma or a tertiary preparation course. The admission criteria is usually less demanding and completing the course will help you develop the skills you’ll require to succeed in your bachelor degree, such as research and essay writing. Speak to your chosen institution about the best bridging/pathway option. If you complete a diploma you can use it to meet the admission criteria for a degree, or if you decide you don’t want to pursue further study you’ll still walk away with a qualification.

Once you’ve met the minimum entry requirements for your course, you’ll still have to compete against other applicants for a place. But if you do your research and follow our tips, you’ll give yourself the best chance of becoming one of the 40%!

Find out more

View the general admission criteria and contact details for each institution.

Take a look at how we assess Year 12 studies and tertiary qualifications.

If you received a UAI, check how it converts to an ATAR.

University participation data comes from the Department of Education.