The countdown is on for Year 12 students. In any circumstances, the pressure can feel overwhelming. However, this year the usual pressure to perform has been exacerbated by COVID restrictions, constantly-changing teaching arrangements and, in NSW, delayed HSC exams. In response, many universities seek to relieve this pressure by offering alternate pathways or enabling programmes.

The Transition to Uni (TU) programme offered by Southern Cross University is among a small number, such as those offered by the University of Southern Queensland and Murdoch University, that allow recent school leavers, who may have missed their ATAR cut-off, to start university at the same time as their peers. TU is a free six-week intensive programme offered in January to recent Year 12 students who want to be assured of a university place. It is designed as a safety net for students completing HSC exams in these uncertain and unpredictable times.

“The Transition to University programme took the stress of worrying about my grades away”, said Rhys, a 2021 TU graduate who wanted to study engineering but was worried that his Year 12 results would not be enough for an offer.

The programme provides an opportunity for students who don’t get the HSC results they were hoping for, and indeed might have achieved if the year was not so disrupted by a global pandemic. Students who complete TU are guaranteed a place in a degree at Southern Cross University. Recent data show that 95 per cent of programme graduates applied for an undergraduate place in 2020 or 2021. Those who then completed at least one study period in their programme achieved higher Grade Point Averages than their non-TU peers in the same first year period.

The programme consists of two subjects focused on academic literacies and foundational maths and science concepts. The subjects are specifically designed to equip students with the confidence to use tertiary academic skills and connect to the university community, laying a solid foundation for successful independent learning in a degree.

Students benefit from interactive, media-rich online modules that they work through over the six-week period. They also attend regular on-line tutorials and workshops run by experienced educators and based on principles of active student-centred learning. Rhys describes his experience as follows:

The teachers in the course provided me with the knowledge I needed to make full use of the resources provided by SCU and gave me an early look into what life at uni would be like. The information provided was very applicable to what I needed to succeed.”

Transition to Uni is run every January for six weeks by the pathway specialist team at Southern Cross University.


Dr Suzi Syme, Associate Dean (Education), SCU College, Southern Cross University at [email protected]
Dr Liz Goode, Lecturer, Academic Portfolio Office, Southern Cross University at [email protected]


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