How to get into higher education

Pathways include:

  • ATAR
  • VET Qualifications
  • Recognition for previous study or work 
  • Enabling or sub-bachelor courses
  • Adjustment Factors


After finishing year 12, you can use your Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) score to apply for a place at a university or non-university higher education provider.

You can apply through the Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC) in your state/territory:

Applying through a TAC is not the only option. You may also be able to apply for your course directly through your higher education provider.

Offer Rounds

Places in courses are offered through a series of offer rounds.

Early Offer Rounds

Some institutions offer places at university before the main offers start and are usually for early offer schemes such as the Schools Recommendation Scheme, ADFA (Australian Defence Force Academy) courses, distance education courses and some post-school applicants. These early offer rounds are not offered at all institutions.

Some institutions have early offer schemes for students. Through these schemes, Year 12 applications may be selected for courses independently of their final Year 12 results.

The Rounds

During the second and third offer rounds, higher education providers will sometimes consider lower ATAR scores for entry into the course. You may even receive a late entry offer from a provider after offer rounds have been completed.

VET Qualifications 

You may be able to use previous vocational education and training (VET) qualifications to apply for higher education. Individual higher education providers will decide what VET qualifications they will accept as entry for their courses.

For example: 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.

TAFE and a range of other private VET providers offer a large range of qualifications. Compare VET courses, entry requirements and fees involved on the Your Career(Opens in a new tab/window) website.

Recognition for previous study or work

You can apply to your provider to have your relevant academic, work and life experiences or previous study (recognition of prior learning) recognised to:

  • gain entry to a course
  • apply for credit to exempt you from completing a unit of study (subject) in your course.

Please note individual providers have discretion as to whether and how they offer/apply recognition of prior learning.

Enabling or sub-bachelor courses

If you don't meet the academic requirements for your courses check with your provider to see if they have a course that you can do to help you gain entry. For example:

  • Sub-bachelor courses - will lead to a qualification (like a higher education diploma, advanced diploma or associate degree). These qualifications 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 - will help you 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.

Adjustment Factors

Adjustment factors are additional points that may be used with the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) to better an individuals Selection Rank. Adjustments do not change an individual's ATAR but changes their selection rank for a particular course or courses.

Providers may offer adjustment factors of some kind. Typically, they are available for some or all of the following:

  • outstanding academic achievement in particular subjects
  • social or economic disadvantage faced by the student
  • regional or remote residence
  • attendance at particular schools
  • participation in elite sport or artistic activity
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Selection rank adjustments are applied differently across states and territories, providers and courses. It is best to check with your intended higher education provider and whether you are eligible to be awarded adjustments.