Updated: Feb 15
As unreasonable as it seems, when we first committed to home educating our two children, then aged 8 and 10, one of my main concerns was would they be able to get into Uni one day? How would they find work and their place in the world without an ATAR or a HSC? In the years that followed, I have had that same conversation with countless parents. It turns out that it’s normal (?!) to worry about your child's future academic success, even while they are only 5.
Home education is a legal option everywhere in Australia, and although the regulations are slightly different in every State or Territory, one of the more consistent regulations is the lack of a pathway for home educated students to be awarded the year 12 certificate (known by different names in each State or Territory too). Not to worry - it turns out there are lots of other ways to get into uni, further education and the workforce without year 12.
Here’s just a few:
Study a course through an RTO, such as TAFE. A Certificate III is roughly equivalent to year 12, and certificate IV or diploma courses can be used for University entrance. In NSW, registered home educated students can access smart & skilled funding through TAFE from age 15 without needing a year 10 certificate. In QLD, VET in Schools (VETiS) and School-based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SATs) are subsidised training opportunities which are available to all secondary students, including registered home educated students. Sophie went to TAFE and completed a Cert IV as a pathway to university, and went on to study a Bachelor of Science with a double major in chemistry and cognitive brain science. Laura completed a Cert IV in Music at her local Conservatorium of Music, which along with an audition and interview allowed her to get into university to study a Bachelor of Music. She has since completed a postgraduate certificate in education (special education), and works in schools teaching cello and assisting the creative director. Erin completed a Diploma in video editing, animation and design, and then went on to study a screen & media Diploma at film school, and then a degree with a double major in film theory and creative writing, all by age 21 and without an ATAR!
The Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT) is an aptitude test that evaluates verbal and quantitative reasoning. Specific curriculum knowledge is not required. There are two different STAT tests - STAT multiple choice and STAT written English. Many home educated students take this test and use it to get into uni into the course of their choosing.
Once you’re finished homeschool highschool, you could complete a traineeship - this is on the job training alongside study. Naomi took this pathway into the childcare industry, and then continued both working and studying, going on to a Diploma in Childcare.
Enrolling in school for senior high school is always an option. Josiah was homeschooled from the start of his education up until the end of year 10, and then went to high school to study his HSC. He went on to study civil engineering and business economics, and now works as an engineer in local government.
Many Universities have alternate entry pathways. One example is Newcastle University’s Newstep program; a FREE university access program designed for students who have not qualified for their chosen university program or have not completed Year 12. Check the University websites to find out about these programs. Wesley completed a Cert IV in Laboratory Techniques in what would have been his grade 11 year, and gained admission to Uni in a Sports Science course with no other qualifications. But he didn’t feel ready to go to uni, and so he enrolled in the Newstep program. He went on to study Sports Science at university, but ended up studying Music instead. That’s life, hey?
You can read the full story of most of these home education graduates in our Article "Grad Stories: What's next in the life of a homeschool graduate?"
I’m sure there are many other ways to get into uni without year 12, and other entry points into the workforce such as apprenticeships that we haven’t even touched on. What was your pathway? We’d love to hear your story too.
By Karen Chegwidden