Pathway Programs in Australia
| Doug Wintemute
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International students can use pathway programs at Australian universities to acquire English language and study skills and advance their academic careers.
For international students, academic and language requirements can be challenging obstacles to overcome. Pathway programs help address these challenges by providing learners with the necessary training and skill upgrades. Several schools have introduced pathway programs in Australia to help international students pursue degrees on the continent.
According to the Australian government, the number of international students in Australia increased by 58% from 2015-2019. Pathway programs have helped make Australian higher education more accessible than ever before.
In this guide, we consider the different pathway programs in Australia, highlighting details about the experience and common requirements.
What Is an Australian Pathway Program?
Pathway programs in Australia help international students meet the minimum requirements for admission to the country's colleges and universities. Programs like University of Adelaide's foundation studies program prepare learners for the language and study demands of the Australian curriculum.
The programs also provide an orientation to Australian culture, familiarizing students with the country's lifestyles and customs and allowing them to begin building a social network. While the specifics vary by school, enrollees can complete most pathway programs in Australia in under one year. Pathway programs typically require a minimum completion grade to proceed.
Coursework aligns with the higher education degree that students plan to pursue. Typically, learners take core courses like mathematics, sciences, and business, along with English language training.
What Are Pathway Programs in Australia Like?
Each pathway program in Australia offers a unique experience and curriculum, but they have a few features in common. The following sections explore common courses and how curricula can differ by intended degree.
We also explore what students can expect as they develop their foundational and English language training. This general information may help prospective students identify their ideal pathway program in Australia.
Australian Pathway Program Experience
When taking a pathway program in Australia, international students get a taste of college life before beginning their degrees. While enrolled in these programs, like the ones available through The University of Queensland, learners can live on campus, meet other international students, and access campus facilities.
These programs operate like traditional higher education programs, with classes running regularly throughout the week, along with some complementary training available online. Learners should expect a minimum of about 20 hours of class time and coursework each week, though requirements can change depending on the student's program and pathway needs.
Classes are relatively small, enrolling 10-15 students from various regions around the world.
Australian Pathway Program Coursework
Pathway program coursework in Australia varies by type. Generally, students choose between either an Australian university foundation program or an English for academic purposes (EAP) program. Both types equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to earn admission to Australian degree programs.
In foundation programs, learners take courses that satisfy the prerequisites for specific degrees. Courses may include accounting, sciences, mathematics, and computing and information systems. EAP programs, meanwhile, focus on language skills, such as academic writing, oral communication, and research.
What Does a Postgraduate Pathway Program in Australia Look Like?
International students at all levels can find pathway programs in Australia, not just undergraduates. Graduate students can access Australia's master's programs by first enrolling in a pathway program, which can help them meet entry requirements by upgrading their English, research, and study skills.
In general, postgraduate pathway programs in Australia are similar to undergraduate programs, though they often include more specialized coursework, as explained below.
Postgraduate Pathway Program Experience
Like undergraduate pathways, learners in graduate pathway programs can usually live on campus and complete their training in under one year. While enrolled, students enjoy access to the campus facilities and student organizations.
Postgraduate pathway programs in Australia tend to be smaller than undergraduate programs. Upon successful completion of the training, graduates can usually enroll directly in their desired master's programs. Some schools even allow students to complete relevant master's courses while still in their pathway programs, reducing their overall study time and costs.
Postgraduate Pathway Program Coursework
Most postgraduate programs focus on academic preparation in English, emphasizing academic writing, oral communication, and reading. In addition to primary English training, some programs also offer research and study preparation courses.
Like the lower-level programs, postgraduate pathway programs in Australia can also offer training related to the student's desired master's degree. For example, enrollees pursuing accounting degrees usually complete courses in economics, finance, and accounting foundations. This training helps learners familiarize themselves with geographical or cultural differences and transition into their graduate degrees more smoothly.
What Are the General Admission Requirements for an Australian Pathway Program?
Admission requirements vary among institutions and departments. The pathway programs available through the University of South Australia and its affiliate schools, for example, each have unique requirements. Some schools also have different admission requirements based on the applicant's location and intended degree.
In general, candidates need a high school diploma or equivalent and a decent command of the English language, as demonstrated through language tests like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Applicants with weaker English skills usually need strong grades in other areas to be admitted.
After completing one of the pathway programs in Australia, graduates sometimes receive guaranteed entry into their desired program, though requirements vary by school.
What Does the Student Pathway Journey Look Like?
While most students begin their pathway to Australia after graduating high school, some programs also admit candidates who have only completed grade 11. Applicants usually need to submit language test results from IELTS, TOEFL, or other accepted English tests. Additional grade and application material requirements vary depending on the school, program, and country of origin.
After completing the pathway program training, students must complete final exams to demonstrate their understanding of the course material. Some programs then require students to retake one of the language tests. At some schools, enrollees who complete the pathway program with the appropriate grades automatically receive admission to the full university without submitting any additional materials.
Other English-Language Pathway Programs
Students looking to earn degrees in other countries have many options for English-language pathway programs. In addition to pathway programs in Australia, international degree-seekers can pursue programs in predominantly English-speaking countries around the world.
Pathway Programs Around the World
Frequently Asked Questions
Pathway to Aus is a private company that helps international students seeking degrees and student visas in Australia. Students should carefully research any company or agency advertising pathway program services and visit the government's website for more information.
An international student looking to move to Australia needs to first apply for a degree or pathway program and a student visa. Many schools assist accepted students with housing, but some learners may need to find their own living situations. For more assistance, pathway candidates should contact their desired school's student support services.
Foundation courses are general education classes that all students must take. In Australia, these can include English, mathematics, the sciences, business, and research methods.
Header Image Credit: Klaus Vedfelt | Getty Images
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