Studying at uni can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work. Going to uni doesn’t just mean a nationally recognised qualification, it may give you opportunities to travel, meet new people, connect with the community and expose you to new ideas!
University degrees focus heavily on academic study. Depending on what course you choose there will also be some practical application of what you are learning, but not as much as a TAFE course. In some occupations, like nursing and teaching, you are required to have a university qualification to work in Australia.
First of all there are two types of degrees, undergraduate and postgraduate. Undergraduate degrees are the first level of higher education, so the first thing you study at university. Postgraduate degrees, like masters or PHD, are a way to study more after you have completed your undergraduate degree.
Some university courses prepare you for a specific job, like journalism or engineering, while others have a broader focus, like arts or commerce. Broader degrees will give you skills that can be used in a range of different jobs. The best way to choose a course is to think about the job you want to do, then find out what course or courses will lead you there. What Degree? Which University? and Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching have some great tools to help you explore all the different courses and universities out there.
If you’re not sure what you want to do the best way to pick a course is to think about the subjects you like to study, or things you enjoy doing. Then look for courses that include those subjects or topics.
Once you have chosen a course you can work out which universities offer that course, and which one would be best for you. You may need to move to a new city or interstate to attend the university you choose, there are lots of options for students who move out of home including college, renting your own place, or living in a share house with other people.
How you apply for a course depends on the state the university is in, each state has its own university admissions centre. You may be able to apply through your school, ask your careers counsellor for more information.
NSW and ACT: Universities Admissions Centre
NT: Apply to Charles Darwin University through the South Australian Tertiary Admittance Centre
QLD: Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre
SA: South Australian Tertiary Admittance Centre
TAS: Apply directly to the University of Tasmania
VIC: Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre
WA: Tertiary Institutions Service Centre
You can also study online through Open Universities Australia, this option is more flexible if you are unable to study on campus and is open to anyone regardless of age, educational background or location.
Unfortunately university isn’t free, there are two different types of placement that will determine how much your uni course will cost. You will be offered either a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) or a fee paying place. A CSP is subsidised by the Australian government, which means you just pay a student contribution towards your fees. A fee paying place is not subsidised by the government, so you will have to pay the full tuition fees.
The government offers five different types of student loans to help you pay for your course. That means the government will cover the upfront cost of your uni fees and you can pay back your loan when you start working and earning money. For more info check out StudyAssist’s paying back my loan page. You may also be eligible for income support while you are studying – use the Student Income Support Eligibility Tool to find out if you are.