How to get early entry into university in Australia

How to get early entry into university in Australia

I wrote an article about different ways to get into uni without an ATAR and I’ve been asked by so many people how to get early entry into university in Australia other than NSW. I covered NSW in the original article because that’s where we live and my son had already done the research.

But, time to get off my lazy horse and cover early entry into university in Australia for other states. It’s definitely a game-changer for so many kids who are freaked out about the pressure of final exams. Early entry basically means you’re in based on factors other than those last, stressful exams. Things like your year 11 and early year 12 grades; reviews from your teachers and principal; your engagement in extra-curricular activities like your job, sport or music; volunteering commitments you’ve taken on; and your responses to questions asked during the early entry admissions process.

Early entry essentially means that you know before you finish year 12 whether you’ve got a place in your chosen degree or not. It’s not offered for every course, but it is for many.

This isn’t a get out of jail free card. You’ll still need to finish school and you’ll want to do your best in your final exams. After all, why not do the best you can seeing as you need to be there anyway?

So, let’s go state to state and find out what you need to do to get early entry into university around Australia.

Take your place with an early entry into university

Take your place with an early entry into university. Image: Photo by Mathias Reding via Pexels.

Early entry into university in NSW

University Early Entry Scheme About Application
Australian Catholic University
ACU Guarantee – Open to year 12 students who completed year 11 in Australia
– Based on year 11 results
– You can write up to personal statements to increase your chances of an offer
Opens 1 June 2022 – check website
Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt Advantage – Open to year 12 students 
– Based on year 11 results and demonstrated ‘soft skills’ like resilience, communication, empathy and motivation.
Open now until 24 June 2022 (second round) or 31 August (3rd round) – check website
Griffith University
Year 12 Early Offer Guarantee – Open to year 12 students in QLD and northern NSW
– There’s specific criteria to meet depending on where you are doing year 12, so check their website
Open now – check website
Macquarie University
Macquarie Leaders and Achievers Early Entry Scheme – Open to year 12 students completing the HSC or IB
– Based on year 11 academic performance
– You need to show three examples of your involvement in leadership, sport or casual work activities
Opens 1 June 2022 – check website
Macquarie University
Schools Recommendation Scheme (SRS) – Open to year 12 students completing the HSC or IB
– Based on your year 11 academic performance and your school’s view of you as a student
Opened 12 April 2022 via UAC
University of NSW
Gateway Admission Path – Open to year 12 students doing their HSC
– Based on a written personal statement, year 11 results and your school’s rating of your aptitudes and performance in relevant areas of study
– Administered through the UAC Schools Recommendation Scheme
Open now until 19 September 2022 via UAC
University of Newcastle
Schools Recommendation Scheme (SRS) – Based on your year 11 academic performance and school recommendation
– SRS offers for all undergraduate degrees (excluding B Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine and B Midwifery)
– An application must be submitted via UAC and if successful, does not consider your HSC marks
Open now until 19 September 2022 via UAC
University of Sydney
Early Offer Year 12 (E12) Scheme – Assessed by UAC through their Educational Access Scheme
– The conditional early offer comes with an additional scholarship of $5950
– Students must be experiencing financial hardship, residing in an area of socio-economic disadvantage and/or attend a rural or regional school to be eligible
Open now until 19 September 2022 via UAC
University of Wollongong
UoW Early Admission – Open to Australian students completing year 12

If you can meet these four criteria, you’re in with a chance: academic readiness, motivation and passion, communication and collaboration and, planning and persistence
– You’ll also be assessed on your marks so far, relevant to the degree you want to study

Open 18 July – 12 August 2022 – check website
Western Sydney University
HSC True Reward Early Offer Program – Conditional early offer based on year 11 and 12 results plus achieving a minimum band in your HSC for subjects specific to your degree
– Based on your HSC results, not the scaled ATAR
Open now – check website
 
Early entry into Sydney University

University of Sydney. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

UAC Schools Recommendation Scheme (SRS)

As noted in the table above, many NSW universities run their early entry through UAC via the SRS. Note that ‘many’ is not all universities – many run their own early entry program directly and UAC is not involved. One of the key things to note about SRS is that the offer of early entry happens much later than through other early entry pathways. You probably won’t know you’ve been accepted until after you’ve sat your final exams. That said, your ATAR won’t be counted towards your acceptance.

Here’s a list of the unis you can apply for early entry for via SRS: 

− Australian Catholic University
− Charles Sturt University
− International College of Management, Sydney
− Macquarie University
− National Art School
− SAE Creative Media Institute
− Torrens University Australia
− University of Canberra
− University of New England
− University of Newcastle
− University of Notre Dame Australia
− University of Sydney
− University of Technology Sydney
− UNSW Sydney
− Western Sydney University 

Key dates for the 2022 SRS:

19 Sep Applications close
3 Nov Finalise preferences
11 Nov First conditional and unconditional (not based on ATAR)
offers released

Remember, whether you apply through SRS or direct, always check with your chosen universities to ensure you have the most up-to-date information. 

Early entry into university in VIC

Melbourne University

Melbourne University. Image source: Wikimedia Commons. 

University Early Entry Scheme About Application
Deakin University
Special Entry Access Scheme  – Deakin doesn’t really offer early entry, however the Monash Guarantee program aims to help disadvantaged student gain access, even if they don’t meet ATAR requirements.
 – It’s available for students who are from an under-represented or regional school; students with a disability or medical consideration; those experiencing financial hardship; students with a difficult life or family conditions; and to Indigenous Australian students.
Check with the university.
Federation University
Early Offer Program – Open to year 12 students or those who finished school in 2021 or 2020.
– Based on year 11 results
– You can write up to personal statements to increase your chances of an offer
Open now until December – check website
La Trobe University Aspire  – both an early entry and scholarship program
 – open to year 12 students who are sitting their VCE and are current community volunteers
 – you need to show examples of your community or leadership work 
Open now until 16 September – check website.
Monash University
The Monash Guarantee

Special Entry Access Scheme

 – Monash doesn’t really offer early entry, however the Monash Guarantee program aims to help disadvantaged student gain access, even if they don’t meet ATAR requirements.
 – It’s available for students who are financially disadvantaged; or are Indigenous Australian; live in a low socio-economic area; or attended a Monash-listed under-represented high school.
Check with the university.
RMIT
Early Offer Program  – Open to Australian year 12 students
 – Based on an early offer ATAR which is lower than the general ATAR
 – Demonstrate leadership, teamwork, creative thinking and critical thinking skills
Open May 2022 – check website.
Swinburne
Early Entry Program  – You will need a recommendation from a representative of your school.
 – Also based on your responses to key questions in the application.
Open now – check website
University of Melbourne
Access Melbourne  – The Uni of Melbourne doesn’t really offer ‘early entry’. The Access Melbourne scheme is more for helping disadvantaged students gain entry after receiving their ATAR.
 – Current Year 12 applicants who are eligible for at least one of these four Access Melbourne categories: disadvantaged financial background; resident of a rural or isolated area;  difficult circumstances; disability or medical condition.
 – There is still a minimum ATAR requirement (check website) and the University of Melbourne does not adjust ATARs but does allocate bonus points (see above).
Check with the university.
Victoria University
VU Guaranteed  – Note, this is not an acceptance into a specific course, only general acceptance into the university.
 – You’ll still need to meet ATAR requirements, but VU Guaranteed may give you bonus ATAR points to help you reach your goal.
 – be a current Year 11 or 12 student at school in Victoria and complete Year 12
 – add a VU course to your VTAC preference list or apply direct to VU Polytechnic courses for apply-direct courses.
Open now – check website.

Early entry into university in ACT

ANU early entry

ANU. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

University Early Entry Scheme About Application
Australian National University
Direct Application Admissions – Open to Australian year 12 students who receive an ATAR
– Based on year 11 or year 12 depending on which round you apply for
Open now until 23 May – check website.
University of Canberra
August Early Offer Round – Open to ACT and NSW year 12 students intending to go to university.
– Based on year 11 results and must achieve an overall 60% grade.
Open 2 May until 24 July.

Early entry into university in SA

Barr Smith Library at the University of Adelaide

Barr Smith Library at the University of Adelaide. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

University Early Entry Scheme About Application
Flinders University
Year 11 Grades Admission Pathway  – At this stage, it’s unclear whether Flinders is still offering this Covid-introduced program in 2023 – check with the university.
 – Open to SA and NT year 12 students as well as students from border towns in Victoria and NSW
 – Application is via SATAC
Check with the university.
Torrens University Australia
Early Entry Program  – Open to SA, QLD and NSW year 12 students intending to go to university.
 – All you have to do is complete the online application.
Open now – check website.
University of Adelaide
Year 11 Entry Pathway  – At this stage, it’s unclear whether UA is still offering this Covid-introduced program in 2023 – check with the university.
 – Open to SA and NT year 12 students as well as students from border towns in Victoria and NSW
 – Application is via SATAC
Check with the university.
University of South Australia
Year 12 entry  – Not quite ‘early entry’ but a pathway that doesn’t put all the pressure on achieving a set ATAR.
 – Put UniSA as your first preference
 – based on your three best Year 12 subject grades (achieving As or Bs), plus complete SACE Stage 2 and achieve a minimum ATAR of 50
Put UniSA as your first preference.

Early entry into university in WA

University of Western Australia

University of Western Australia. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

University Early Entry Scheme About Application
Curtin University
Curtin Early Offers  – Meet the admission criteria for your preferred course.
 – Apply via TISC by uploading your latest school report
 – Eligibility is based on your year 11 WACE results
 – Your early offer is received within 5-7 business days.
Open now via TISC.
Edith Cowan Australia
Early Offer Program  – Know your predicted ATAR
 –  Based on latest school results available when you apply – ie. year 11 or 12
 – Have applied for your course via TISC with ECU as your first preference.
Open now via TISC.
Murdoch University
Year 12 Early Offer Program  – Based on your year 11 or mid-year year 12 ATAR subject results
 – You will also need to meet Murdoch Uni’s English requirements
 – Apply direct with the university or via TISC
Open now until 9 December 2022.
University of Notre Dame Australia
Young Achievers Early Offer Program  – Any Australian year 12 school-leavers completing the ATAR pathway
 – Based on year 11 or mid-year year 12 reports and grades
 – Supporting documents like school or community recommendations and any awards, certificates and your CV
 – Application form asks questions like ‘Tell us how you contribute, and how frequently, to community life’
Open now until 30 September 2022.
University of Western Australia
Predicted ATAR entry  – based on your final Year 11 or mid Year 12 results with a minimum predicted ATAR of 80 (calculated by UWA)
 – complete Year 12 with an ATAR, or gain entry via the STAT pathway if not sitting the ATAR
Open now – check website.

Early entry into university in QLD

Queensland University of Technology

Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove campus. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

University Early Entry Scheme About Application
Bond University
Year 12 Early Guaranteed Offer Scheme  – Meet the admission criteria for your preferred course.
 – Apply via TISC by uploading your latest school report
 – Eligibility is based on your year 11 WACE results
 – Your early offer is received within 5-7 business days.
Apply as soon as you receive your year 12 semester 1 report.
CQUniversity
Principal’s Recommendation Scheme  – Open to all current year 12 students in any state
 – Based on the recommendation of your high school principal, rather than ATAR
 – Unconditional offer received within 48 hours of applying
 – Apply direct to university for your chosen course and upload your recommendation letter
Open now until 1 December 2022 – check website
Griffin University
Year 12 Early Offer Guarantee  – Open to current year 12 students in QLD and northern NSW who meet eligibility criteria (check website)
 – A range of degrees are eligible under the scheme
 –  Apply via QTAC with your course as your first preference
 – Note: early offer not received until after the QCE/HSC/IB exams
Open 2 August until mid-November (date TBA – check website)
James Cook University
Early Offer Program  – Open to current Australian year 12 students who complete their QCE or equivalent
 – complete a Nomination Form and recommendation via your school
 – Offer received within 48 hours of application
 – You will still need to lodge a QTAC Application after applications open on 2 August 2022.
Open 16 May until 14 October 2022.
Queensland University of Technology
Year 12 Early Offer Scheme  – open to Queensland year 12 students
 – subject to achieving minimum mark criteria in your eligible subjects
Open 3 August – 24 October via QTAC
University of Queensland
No program    
University of Southern Queensland
USQ Early Offer  – Open to year 12 students who select USQ as their first preference on their QTAC application
 – Based on either completion of a USQ Head Start Course or on your principal’s recommendation
 – Apply via QTAC with your course as your first preference then submit the principal’s recommendation letter and application plus your year 11 report to  earlyoffer@usq.edu.au
 – emailed outcomes received from 12 August 2022
Open now until 10 October 2022.
University of the Sunshine Coast
Early Offer Guarantee – Open to year 12 students who select USC as their first preference on their QTAC application
 – based on your school principal’s recommendation and is independent of your Year 12 results
 – academic performance plus motivation, talents, passions and abilities as noted by your principal
 – as long as you meet the program-specific requirements, you’re guaranteed early entry
Open 2 August until 14 October 2022.

Early entry into university in TAS

University of Tasmania

University of Tasmania Image: Leigh Woolley via Wikimedia Commons.

University Early Entry Scheme About Application
University of Tasmania
Schools Recommendation Program  – Open to Australian year 12 students
 –  Based on school recommendation and year 11 results
Open 30 June until 1 August for round 1 offers. Open until 7 October for other offers.

Early entry into university in NT

University Early Entry Scheme About Application
Charles Darwin University
No program    
How to get early entry into university in Australia

Good luck getting early entry into uni! Image: Karolina Grabowska

Feature image by Buro Millennial

Tibetan sha balep are delicious for lunch

Tibetan sha balep are delicious for lunch

I made the moreish honey and granola bars from Taste Tibet this week and it reminded me that I have another recipe from the book to share with you. Sha balep are little Tibetan pastries that I think of as sharing the same eating space with foods like Mexican empanadas or Indian samosas or Aussie meat pies. That is, make them en masse, freeze them and then heat them up for snacks, easy dinners (they are traditionally served with soup) or even for breakfast as the Tibetans do.

I mentioned in the article I wrote to accompany the granola bars that sharing food from other cultures is a preoccupation of mine. Sha balep are an example of this: the food has a story and the story enhances the food.

In Tibet, you’ll most likely find yak meat in your sha balep, but beef mince substitutes just fine. Unless you happen to know where to get your hands on yak meat in Australia? Hmm.

Enjoy making these little meat pastries, and perhaps finding a new love of Tibetan rap music as Julie and Yeshi suggest below…

Sha balep (Tibetan pasties)

Make some sha balep pastries from Tibet

From Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa

Sha balep (literally, ‘meat breads’) are widely and wildly loved by Tibetans. Vegans, do not look away now! You can make a vegan version using the tofu, Chinese cabbage and mushroom filling on page 161. Potatoes are another good fit, but have a go with any veggies you enjoy and have to hand.

There’s a saying in Tibetan, ‘If you mess up, I’ll give you a sha balep’, which means that if you step out of line, you’ll get a slap. The Tibetan rapper Shapaley has produced a wonderful ode to sha balep that references this expression. It’s a very catchy tune to listen to – YouTube is your friend – while you make these delicious pasties.

In central Tibet many people eat them for breakfast, but they are more typically served for lunch or dinner, usually with a soup side. We like to serve them with Yeshi’s super salsa (see page 200): the trick is to take a bite out of the sha balep and then spoon in some of the fresh-tasting salsa for a wonderfully refreshing contrast.

Makes 10

For the dough
450 g (3 cups) self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tablespoon cooking oil

For the filling
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) beef, ideally 15–20% fat content
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons cooking oil
½ teaspoon crushed Sichuan peppercorns (yerma)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
50 g (1¾ oz) spinach, washed and finely chopped

Cooking oil, for deep-frying

For the dough, place the flour and oil in a mixing bowl. Using your dominant hand, start pinching together the oil and the flour, while slowly pouring in 200 ml (7 fl oz) of warm water with the other. Mix and then knead, adding just enough water to make a dough. As the dough comes together, keep kneading until you have a nice ball of dough in the bowl. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the filling, put the beef, salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil into a bowl and mix together, either with a fork or by hand. Add the Sichuan pepper and coriander and stir well, followed by the onion, garlic and spinach. Mix thoroughly. Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, and when it’s hot, stir the meat mixture through it for 4–5 minutes until the beef browns. Set aside and allow to cool.

Sprinkle a little flour onto your work surface. Take the dough out of the bowl and loosely roll it into a sausage shape. Divide it evenly into eight pieces, then roll each piece between your palms into a ball.

Working with one ball of dough at a time, lightly flatten it with your hands and then roll it out with a rolling pin, pushing and pulling the dough up and down quickly and firmly. Use your other hand to hold the dough and turn it little by little as you go. You are aiming for a circle about 10–12 cm (4–4½  inches) in diameter, with the middle a bit thicker than the edges.

Spoon a generous amount (about 2–3 tablespoons) of the cooled filling into the centre, then gently fold one side of the circle over the filling to meet the other side.

Starting in the middle, use your fingertips to press the edges together into the board, trying not to trap any pockets of air inside. Just before you completely seal the pasty, gently press down on it to release any trapped air and then close. Lift the joined edge up bit by bit, pressing it back into the pasty to seal it again. When you are confident it is well sealed, you can crimp the edge with as much flair as you dare – and if you are not satisfied with the design, you can always use a fork. Set aside while you make the rest of the pasties.

When you’re ready to cook your sha balep, pour a 7.5 cm depth of cooking oil into a large, stable wok and place over a high heat. (Alternatively, you could use a frying pan to shallow-fry the sha balep, turning them over once halfway through, in which case you will only need a 2 cm (¾ inch) depth of oil.) Check the temperature of the oil by tossing in a tiny scrap of dough: if it bubbles vigorously and rises quickly to the surface, you are good to go. Turn the heat down to low and slide in as many sha balep as will fit into the pan – probably no more than four at a time. Once they are in the oil, you can use tongs to move them around and turn them over from time to time, so they cook evenly.

Let the sha balep cook for 4–5 minutes, or until they are golden brown, then drain on paper towel before serving.

Yeshi says ‘If you make your sha balep nice and plump, you shouldn’t end up with any left over filling, but if you do it can be boiled for a few minutes in some water to make a nice side soup – add a little coriander for greenery and extra flavour. If by any chance you have any dough left over, roll it out flat and use it to make some Numtak balep (fried breakfast bread or Balep (Tibetan flatbread).’

Images and recipe text from Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa, photography by Ola O. Smith. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.

Buy Taste Tibet book

Why Heartstopper needs to be on your watch list

Why Heartstopper needs to be on your watch list

If you’ve got a high school-aged kid, chances are that the Netflix show Heartstopper will be on your radar. Everyone is watching it. Everyone is falling in love with it.

And that’s a very good thing indeed.

It may as well be called Heartwarmer, because this show is lovely to its core. 

It’s a British boy-meets-boy story adapted from Alice Osmen’s graphic novel series by the same name (fun fact: the series actually started as an uber-cool tumblr web comic).

The story treads a familiar path: after a sweet encounter, Charlie (Joe Locke) develops a massive crush on the popular rugby-playing Nick (Kit Connor). Charlie’s trio of pals Tao (William Gao), Isaac (Tobie Donovan), and Elle (Yasmin Finney) try to warn him off because they’re certain Nick is straight. But Charlie thinks differently.

There’s a lot for Charlie to navigate here, given that he’s the only openly gay kid in the school – though he’s secretly meeting the nasty Ben (Sebastian Croft) in the closet. There’s also the fact that transgender Elle is secretly in love with Tao, so there are more teen romance twists to follow. All are sensitively handled and interesting to follow.

But Heartstopper is really about the effervescent Charlie and the charming Nick. It’s not giving anything away to tell you the pair “develop a friendship that turns into something more”. Like I said, this is well-trodden teen romance ground, plus the trailer for the series more than covers that.

What will take you by surprise, however, is how much joy this show will inject into your days. Osmen’s animation weaves in and out of the show, highlighting the emotions and complexities the boys experience as they slowly fall in love.

This is solid PG stuff, given an M rating most likely due to the LGBTQI+ content (which vexes me no end, but it is what it is). Heartstoppers is a reminder that not all teens are drug-abusing, sexed up narcissists ala Euphoria. (Which is an excellent show, BTW, but no way is my 13-year-old watching it!!) Instead, they’re chasing happiness and doing their best in a way that feels familiar to most parents of teens. The boys exist in a world where people support each other and try to understand, not undermine, differences. It’s an idyllic place, but I reckon it’s one that is just as true to real-life as the Euphorias of the world. Don’t you?

To add to the general wonderfulness of this romcom series, they’ve brought in Olivia Coleman as Nick’s understanding mum and Stephen Fry’s voice as the school headmaster (we don’t actually see him in the first series, but maybe he’s coming soon?). I could watch either of these stellar actors sell paint, so having them in the show is a big plus for me. Coleman superb in her role, bringing love, fear, understanding and pride into Sarah’s acceptance of Nick’s bisexuality.

This isn’t some fantasy queer utopia, however. Heartstopper handles issues of homophobia, bullying, self-loathing and rock-bottom self-esteem with grace. It will spark some excellent conversations with your kids if you watch it together, or even if you watch it apart.

I really urge you to get on board this wholesome, big-hearted show and encourage your teens to watch it too. With a bit of luck, this series will spark their interest in picking up an actual book again, like it did for my Year Niner. The graphic novel series is on the birthday list.

Watch it on Netflix.
Buy the book series at Booktopia.

Give yourself the gift of this apple and blackberry pie recipe

Give yourself the gift of this apple and blackberry pie recipe

I’ve fallen so far behind in everything in life (I know you’ve been there). I was supposed to introduce you to this marvellous apple and blackberry pie from Sophie Hanson’s new book at least a month ago. Yet here we are.

Don’t let my delayed introduction put you off from trying both this pie and Sophie’s Around the Kitchen Table. She wrote the book with her mum, artist Annie Heron, so it’s a mix of recipes and suggestions for hanging up the apron for a moment of being creative. I think we could all do with a recipe for that.

It’s been such a hectic year for us so far (that feeling of is it May already, combined with is it only May!?). I could actually use a mighty helping of apple and blackberry pie, to be honest. I just haven’t been taking time for myself and I feel like I’m unravelling. Taking a half hour to myself to prepare this beautiful pie and then another hour to try out some of Annie’s art prompts while it bakes would do me the world of good.

Why am I using “would” when I should be writing “will”? I do think we are our own worst enemies, aren’t we?

So, that’s that. I’m going to sign off now and hand you over to Sophie for the recipe. I’m off to do some baking.

Apple and blackberry pie

Try this Apple and blackberry pie from Sophie Hansen's new book Around the Kitchen Table

Recipe from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron

This pie is nothing fancy, just a simple, pure and homely thing. But that’s what makes it so lovely. The combination of apple and blackberry is a total winner – the blackberries taste extra good because they are extra painful to pick! However, feel free to use any fruit you like (poached quinces would be amazing). I used rye flour because I order it in bulk and always have lots to get through, but I actually find it adds depth, colour and interest to the dough. You can use plain (all-purpose) or other flour if you prefer. And finally, you’ll want to serve this with some gloopy, dollopy cream. Happy baking!

Makes 6 generous slices
Takes 30 mins plus 1 hour chilling time
Bakes 50 mins

Pastry
1⅔ cups (200 g) rye flour, plus extra for dusting
⅓ cup (40 g) icing (confectioners’) sugar
150 g (5½ oz) chilled butter, cut into cubes
3 tsp iced water
1 egg, whisked

Filling
4 large apples
½ cup (110 g) white (granulated) sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (130 g) blackberries

To make the pastry, whisk the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Tip the mixture out onto a work surface and make a well in the centre. Add the butter and use the heels of your hands to bring everything together, adding a little of the iced water as you go. Keep smooshing it all together until you have a rough dough, with some pea-sized bits of butter throughout. Shape the dough into a disc, then wrap and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

For the filling, peel, core and slice the apples. Place the apple in a saucepan with most of the sugar, the cinnamon and a splash of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until the apple has softened. Remove from the heat and set aside. (If time allows, chill the apple.)

Tip the apple into a 6 cup (1.5 litre) pie dish and sprinkle the blackberries over the top.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a large rectangle about 4 mm (3⁄16 inch) thick. Cut the pastry into long strips. Lay six or seven strips across the top of the apple mixture, then spin the pie dish 90 degrees and ‘lattice’ in the next layer of pastry strips.

Brush the egg over the top of the pie and sprinkle the remaining white sugar over the top. Place the pie in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Bake the pie for about 30–40 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

Images and text from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron, photography by Sophie Hansen. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.

Don't miss Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron

8 different ways to get into uni (if you don’t get the ATAR you need)

8 different ways to get into uni (if you don’t get the ATAR you need)

If you’re in the middle of your HSC (or equivalent) and you’re already searching for ‘different ways to get into uni not ATAR’, I get ya!

We’re in the weeds of year 12 at the moment, with my eldest muddling through. I say muddling deliberately because he isn’t the kind of kid to bother too much with school. School’s a social construct, you see. Brought in to keep the masses under control (or something like that, I tend to tune out when he mentions the word “construct”).

His English teacher told me at a recent parent-teacher interview that to try to teach a student who is highly capable but doesn’t care is a very unsatisfying thing to have to do. I hear ya, I said. Oh boy, do I hear you.

In contrast, a family friend’s daughter is stressed up to her eyeballs about getting a specific ATAR to get into a specific course because life will end completely if she doesn’t. She studies long into the night, presumably lit by her own bright brain. Which would be fine, but she’s developed something of an eating disorder because she’s basically too stressed to keep food down.

For different reasons, both of these types of students are enough to send a parent grey (though, of course, we’ve all been parenting for 17/18 years so we’re all pretty much white haired these days anyway).

One probably won’t get the ATAR they need because they don’t care; the other might not get it because they care too much.

Fortunately, there are many different ways to get into uni

Which is precisely why I’m writing this article, though I don’t really want my son to read it. He doesn’t need extra ammo as to why his HSC doesn’t matter.

BUT, my little nightlight friend absolutely does. I want her to know that this year is a single year in her dazzling life and she’s going to be okay, no matter what number she ends up getting. She’s super smart, but even more importantly, she’s a hard worker. That will all still be there next year, and the year after, and the year after and so on.

So, on the off-chance that she doesn’t get her number and the even off-er chance that my son decides he might like to go to university after all, here are some different ways to get into uni to become the person you always wanted to be.

1. Early entry

It’s not all about the ATAR these days. Well, not for many courses anyway. If you want to be a neurosurgeon you still need to hit that 99.99999 repeater ATAR, but for the rest of us, there’s early entry.

Early entry is basically getting a place in a uni degree before you even sit your final exams. Talk about a pressure-release valve! You might know as early as June that you’ve been accepted into the course you want.

Of course, your acceptance has to be based on something tangible and many uni’s will look at your year 11 results combined with a ‘soft skills’ assessment (think of a question on a form like, “Describe a difficult time in your life and how you overcame adversity”, etc). They may even ask your school to assess your capabilities as a student – your motivation, diligence, etc. 

So, this is not a get out of jail free card, but getting early entry is an extreme balm for the final exam blues.

We live in NSW, so I’ve pulled together this chart for my son (though I think he plans to go to uni in Perth as he figures he won’t be able to hear me nagging him from there). Check out universities in your state to see their early entry requirements. And always check with your choice of uni anyway because my chart might not be as up to date as I’d like.

Criteria for early entry at some popular NSW universities
University Early Entry Scheme About Application
Australian Catholic University
ACU Guarantee – Open to year 12 students who completed year 11 in Australia
– Based on year 11 results
– You can write up to personal statements to increase your chances of an offer
Opens 1 June 2022 – check website
Australian National University
Direct Application Admissions – Open to Australian year 12 students who receive an ATAR
– Based on year 11 or year 12 depending on which round you apply for
Open now until 23 May – check website
Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt Advantage – Open to year 12 students 
– Based on year 11 results and demonstrated ‘soft skills’ like resilience, communication, empathy and motivation.
Open now until 24 June 2022 (second round) or 31 August (3rd round) – check website
Griffith University
Year 12 Early Offer Guarantee – Open to year 12 students in QLD and northern NSW
– There’s specific criteria to meet depending on where you are doing year 12, so check their website
Open now – check website
Macquarie University
Macquarie Leaders and Achievers Early Entry Scheme – Open to year 12 students completing the HSC or IB
– Based on year 11 academic performance
– You need to show three examples of your involvement in leadership, sport or casual work activities
Opens 1 June 2022 – check website
Macquarie University
Schools Recommendation Scheme (SRS) – Open to year 12 students completing the HSC or IB
– Based on your year 11 academic performance and your school’s view of you as a student
Opened 12 April 2022 via UAC
University of NSW
Gateway Admission Path – Open to year 12 students doing their HSC
– Based on a written personal statement, year 11 results and your school’s rating of your aptitudes and performance in relevant areas of study
– Administered through the UAC Schools Recommendation Scheme
Open now until 19 September 2022 via UAC
University of Newcastle
Schools Recommendation Scheme (SRS) – Based on your year 11 academic performance and school recommendation
– SRS offers for all undergraduate degrees (excluding B Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine and B Midwifery)
– An application must be submitted via UAC and if successful, does not consider your HSC marks
Open now until 19 September 2022 via UAC
University of Sydney
Early Offer Year 12 (E12) Scheme – Assessed by UAC through their Educational Access Scheme
– The conditional early offer comes with an additional scholarship of $5950
– Students must be experiencing financial hardship, residing in an area of socio-economic disadvantage and/or attend a rural or regional school to be eligible
Open now until 19 September 2022 via UAC
University of Wollongong
UoW Early Admission – Open to Australian students completing year 12

If you can meet these four criteria, you’re in with a chance: academic readiness, motivation and passion, communication and collaboration and, planning and persistence
– You’ll also be assessed on your marks so far, relevant to the degree you want to study

Open 18 July – 12 August 2022 – check website
Western Sydney University
HSC True Reward Early Offer Program – Conditional early offer based on year 11 and 12 results plus achieving a minimum band in your HSC for subjects specific to your degree
– Based on your HSC results, not the scaled ATAR
Open now – check website

Many of the universities listed above offer early entry through the UAC Schools Recommendation Scheme (SRS). Here’s more info on that:

2. Bridging courses

If you don’t get the required ATAR, many universities offer short courses that will develop your skills in prerequisite areas of your chosen study path. Bridging courses are also helpful if you didn’t study a prerequisite subject for your final exams. So, you might have decided too late that you have a passion for science, so you didn’t study any science courses.

It’s important to note that bridging courses don’t guarantee you a spot in the degree you’re chasing. What they will do is help you experience university life, confirm that a particular study direction is the right one for you and give you a basic ‘foot in the door’ at the university of your choice. Check with the uni.

3. Enabling courses

These are university offered courses that basically teach you how to be a uni student. They are often offered online and give you the academic skills and – just as importantly – confidence to tackle tertiary study. Many enabling courses have units that count as credit towards an undergraduate degree, but do check the fine print.

Some universities offer what they call ‘outreach’ enabling courses. These offer even more assisted learning options, like smaller class sizes and more 1:1 tutoring. They’re expensive, but they might be a good option for you if you dozed your way through senior high school and aren’t sure you’ve got the skills you need to do a degree.

Search for your university of choice + enabling courses to find out what you need to do to apply.

Try these different ways to get into uni

4. ‘Mature age’ entry

It’s fascinating, but ‘mature age entry’ to university is available for anyone over 19 years old. That’s basically a gap year (maybe two) after year 12 and you’re ready to sit the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT). This is a general intelligence test combined with a personal essay. You then get a score that can be used instead of an ATAR to gain entry to university courses.

There are ‘colleges’ that offer STAT workshops and training, but ACER (the Australian Council for Education who administer the STAT test) aren’t a fan of them. Instead, they suggest students prepare by doing the practice tests offered on their website.

Any work experience you can gain during your gap year/s in your chosen field of study will also enhance your mature age entry candidacy. This can be as simple as doing some night telemarketing work if you’re interested in getting a marketing degree.

5. VET and TAFE pathways

There are many courses offered through TAFE that transition by agreement to a university undergraduate course. So you might finish TAFE with a Community Services Diploma and have a guaranteed pathway into a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) at Deakin University. Check all available credit transfers here.

You can also study at TAFE for a degree, bypassing the university system altogether. See, you don’t even need an ATAR at all to do a degree at TAFE.

School VET programs may also help you enter your chosen university degree. For example, you might do the Certificate III Health Services VET course through school. After year 12, you could do a  Certificate IV in Preparation for Nursing a TAFE, then a Diploma of Nursing. Your diploma can then be applied as credit towards a Bachelor of Nursing at uni.

There are many alternative pathways into university

6. Adjustment factors

Most universities will take your extracurricular activities into consideration in an adjusted entry scheme. Factors that may be deemed significant enough include things like special consideration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, or for any student who experienced a significant educational disadvantage during years 11 and 12. Students who experienced financial hardship or even simply went to school in a regional or remote area may also be eligible for an adjusted ATAR.

Other recognised circumstances include students with elite achievements in sports or the arts. So if you spent year 11 and 12 focused more on making nationals for netball or you were busy being Becky on Home and Away, you’re probably eligible for some ATAR compensation. Some university degrees also allow for a portfolio or audition pathway to further support these high-achieving students.

If you achieve a band 5 or 6 in high-level English or Maths, you may also receive an ATAR adjustment from the university. This varies from uni to uni, so check your chosen institution and course to see how much this adjustment might be. 

Finally, students who were school captains or achieved dux of their school are generally also able to gain entry to eligible courses with a lower ATAR.

7. Choose a different course

There might be a similar course to the one you’ve got your heart set on that has a lower ATAR. Talk to the university about your options for enrolling in this course and transferring to your chosen course if your marks are up to scratch.

This is quite a well-trodden path into medicine for many students. They start out studying for a Bachelor of Science (Medical Science), which has an ATAR around 90.0 with the goal of transferring to a Bachelor of Medicine (ATAR 99.95) after their first year (or more). Their medical science degree can often be used as credits towards the medicine degree.

Entry into popular degrees like Civil Engineering (ATAR 92.0) or Psychology (ATAR 96.0) can also be achieved this way. Enrol in a Bachelor of Science (ATAR around 80.0) and do very well (you’ll generally need at least a distinction average) in your first year of uni and you can apply to transfer to your preferred degree.

Find a different path into uni without the right ATAR

8. Repeat and try again

Well, technically this isn’t repeating your entire year 11 and 12 years. Instead, you can retake subjects you didn’t do well at and keep the units you were happy with. You can repeat the units at either school or TAFE.

For instance, in NSW, you can take up to five years to finish your studies from the first year you complete an HSC subject. So, if it suited you best, you could effectively do 2 units each year until you’ve completed the necessary 10 units you need for your HSC. I mean, you’d be 22/23 and only just finishing high school, but that’s a small price to pay for your mental wellbeing, no?

Chances are, it will only be one or two subjects you need to ‘re do’. Or perhaps one or two subjects you didn’t do, but are prerequisites for the uni course you want to do. The year 10 kid picking all humanities subjects wasn’t to know that the year 12 you wants to become a vet. Talk to your school careers advisor in the first instance and see this page for a bit more info.

The main thing to remember about all of the above is that you have options. Although achieving the necessary ATAR is the smoothest entry into uni, it’s not the only one. There are so many different ways to get into uni that don’t even involve an ATAR at all.

So, complete your final years at school safe in the knowledge that no matter what happens academically, you’re going to be okay. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do with the ‘rest of your life’. The many different ways to get into uni show that a bit of lived experience can help you decide, plus you can always change your mind.

Best of luck!

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