Thinking about tertiary study?

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Endorsed by Career Development Association of Australia

16 - 18 years
Uni student

If your teen is thinking of going on to tertiary studies, there are lots of things to consider. Here are some questions you and your teen will want to think about, and some useful resources where you can start researching the answers.

What to ask

First your teen will need to decide what to study (and where). These questions will help:

  • What are my strengths, interests and aspirations?
  • What courses are available? What are the admission requirements?
  • Are there alternative entry pathways if I don’t meet the admission requirements?
  • What providers offer particular courses? Which institution should I choose?
  • How are particular courses delivered? How flexible are the courses?
  • Are there opportunities for work-integrated learning, internships, international exchanges, or other extensions?
  • What do other students say about the courses I’m interested in?
  • What are the employment outcomes like for graduates of these courses?

They’ll also need to work out how to finance their tertiary studies. Here are some questions to consider.

  • How much do different courses cost?
  • What payment options are available? Are there scholarships or other forms of financial support?
  • What government support can I access?
  • Will I need to live away from home? What accommodation options are there? How much do they cost? What will my living expenses be like?
  • What kind of support is available?
  • Will I need to get a part-time job? What are employment prospects like in the area? Does the institution help students find work?
  • Am I comfortable going to somewhere brand new where I have no support network, or would I prefer somewhere closer to family and/or friends?

Where to look

These websites are a great starting point for researching the options.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook website ( is a good starting point to help teens explore careers that interest them. The site has information about a wide range of jobs, including future outlook, pay, main tasks, physical and other demands, and the skills, knowledge and abilities needed.

Study Assist

The Study Assist website ( is a one-stop-shop with information about tertiary study options, courses and qualifications, and Australian Government assistance for financing tertiary studies. It also has information about other payments like Youth Allowance and Austudy that your teenager may be eligible for.

The contact us section  also has lots of phone numbers for different types of queries about financing studies.

HELP for fees!

If your teen will be studying at university or an approved private higher education provider they will be offered either a Commonwealth supported place or a fee paying place. If they will be studying with an approved vocational education and training (VET) provider they will be enrolled as either a state subsidised student or a fee paying student.

Eligible students can get loans through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) so that they can defer their fees.

Check out these videos about Government assistance available to HELP students finance their tertiary study.


The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) website ( will help your teen compare higher education institutions and study areas and work out which option will be best for them.

QILT is an Australian Government initiative which helps students and their families make informed choices about study by bringing together robust survey data from Australian universities and higher education institutions about students’ experiences and graduate employment outcomes.

Individual provider websites and handbooks

Universities and other higher education providers will also have lots of information on their own websites. It’s a good idea to look around the different parts of the website – as well as information on the courses they offer, they should also have information about what it’s like to study there, and what kind of support and facilities they offer.

People who’ve been there

It’s always good to talk to people who have ‘been there, done that’ and can share their experiences, so think about who you know who it might be good for your teen to talk to, such as family, friends, or even work colleagues. High school career centre staff also have lots of experience and sources, so encourage your teen to make an appointment with them (and consider going along with them to ask your questions too.)

Open days, campus tours and career expos

Most institutions will provide opportunities for prospective students to have a look around the campus, hear about their programs and meet staff. Many will also attend career expos in a range of cities, which can be a great way to get information about a number of institutions on the one day. These should be advertised in local media, and on the institutions’ websites, and (often) in the high school career centre.

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Last modified
1 August 2019