Life & Style

The University of Newcastle’s Free University Pathway might just be what you're looking for.

Have you been thinking about taking a new career direction of late? However, does the thought of studying make you break out into a sweat? Perhaps you’ve been considering uni but don’t think you can get in?

Whether you’re looking for a career change, dreaming of becoming a university student, or looking to pursue a longheld passion, the University of Newcastle’s FREE Pathway Program, Open Foundation, might be just what you're looking for. 

Created for those who may not have previously held the qualifications required for direct entry, Open Foundation offers plenty of benefits including;

  • Being ideal for everyone regardless of background and level of previous education.
  • Offering students flexible study hours so you can choose from online, part-time, or full-time studies.
  • Guaranteed entry to over 40+ university degrees.
  • Open Foundation is a Centrelink approved Pathway Program making it possible for eligible students to study full-time and receive government assistance.
  • Loads of FREE additional support available so you can learn the study skills not only to gain you entry into university but to set you up for success in your degree and beyond.

We caught up with two past Open Foundation students to hear about their study experience, starting with Oliver (24) who completed Open Foundation in 2019 and is now in the first year of his undergraduate degree, Medical Radiation Science.

uon open foundation

Completing his Year 12 Higher School Certificate in 2014, with what Oliver described as a low ATAR, Oliver spent the following years working and traveling overseas – so the thought of making the switch back to studying seemed a daunting prospect.

“It was actually while I was traveling through Morocco that I decided to enrol into Open Foundation. I was on a tour bus with about 15 people and they were all a little bit older than me and in quite respected professions.

 “After those two weeks trapped on a bus, I realised that they weren't all that different from me and it was much more achievable than what I had initially thought,” Oliver said.

After exploring a number of study options including Optometry and Pathology, Oliver finally landed on Diagnostic Radiography. Whilst that decision was made, he still needed to find a way to get into his degree.

“I looked at quite a few options, I thought about going to TAFE or some sort of diploma qualification to get into Optometry or Pathology. Then finally, I found Open Foundation and it just seemed perfect.”

With the course being offered at Ourimbah Campus, which was in close proximity to Oliver’s home on the Central Coast; he jumped into part-time study during the year of 2019.

uon open foundation

“There was so much really useful information which keeps popping up constantly during my undergraduate degree now.”

“It also offered me the flexibility to fit classes around my hospitality job. With either day or night classes, it allowed me to mix those options up to choose what was going to be better suited.”

Overall, Oliver had such a positive experience with his Open Foundation studies, that he successfully landed a spot in his chosen degree, a Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science.

“The main thing was that it helped get me into the degree that I wanted to do because I worked for it, and everyone was willing to help me. It totally supplied me with the skills I needed to be able to do the degree. If I had of just been able to qualify for a degree, I would have been so underprepared and confronted with what was expected. I actually feel really calm about this whole undergraduate degree. I’ve met a lot of really influential people who have inspired me beyond undergrad and has got me thinking what’s after that and what’s after that.”

We also had the opportunity to speak with Merryn (36), who also completed Open Foundation in 2019 at Ourimbah and is now completing her Bachelor of Nursing.

Finishing high school back in 2002, the idea of completing tertiary education seemed almost completely unattainable.

“I had my second child so wanted to work locally, and I was interested in midwifery because I had such good experiences with the hypnotherapy birthing lady I worked with, and also a great experience with a student midwife.

“It really got me thinking about tertiary education, and it took weeks for me to build up the confidence to call the university, I was really scared that I wasn’t university material. I eventually called up, and the person I spoke to was really friendly and so helpful which made me feel welcome and that I could possibly do tertiary studies,” Merryn explained.

Unsure of whether she wanted to commit to full-time studies whilst trying to juggle a young family and part-time work, it wasn't until Merryn stumbled upon Open Foundation that she knew her tertiary studies were a realistic goal.

“When I found out about Open Foundation I was absolutely ecstatic. I was scared to commit to university because I wasn’t sure if I could and when I found out about Open Foundation it honestly sounded too good to be true.”

It was in mid-2019 that Merryn signed up to complete Open Foundation in a full-time capacity and enrolled to start her studies as a mature aged student. At the time Merryn didn't know it, but her life experiences were going to be a huge part of making her university experience a positive one.

“Having that life experience was honestly amazing. When I was younger, I did not want to go to university at all; I had absolutely no interest whatsoever. But, going back with this life experience was incredible."

Whether you go on to further study or not, all students that complete the course will receive a Certificate of Attainment from the University upon completing Open Foundation as evidence of the skills and knowledge you’ve gained from the program. Completion of Open Foundation also guarantees you entry into over 40+ different degrees at the University of Newcastle.

“I thought it was absolutely amazing that people have this opportunity with no cost to themselves. I definitely would recommend it. It has changed the way I think about tertiary education and the commitment people have made to have degrees. I had never appreciated that before.”

If you’re looking for a new direction but not sure where to start, we recommend looking at the University of Newcastle’s pathway program, Open Foundation.

Start Open Foundation in August – applications are open now!

For more information or to get in contact with the team, click here.