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What is a Pathway Program?

pathway programs australia

This article is sponsored by SIBT

Students don’t always dive straight into tertiary studies when they come to Australia for the first time. In fact, many students arrive in Australia and complete a pathway program that leads them to their chosen study destination.

If you’re curious about what a pathway program is, what can you achieve with it, and whether it’s the right choice for you, we’ve put together a guide with everything you need to know.

We spoke to Bernadette Mackinnon, Marketing and Admissions Director, and Peta Bollen, Academic Director at Sydney Institute of Business and Technology (SIBT), to better understand what a pathway program is, the benefits you can expect, and advice for future students. 

What is a pathway program?

Pathway programs provide bridging qualifications to higher education, giving international students from various backgrounds the guidance they need to enter the university degree of their dreams

“The best way to describe a pathway program is a transitional education between high school education and university,” shares Bernadette.

She also explained that pathways are built to bridge the gap in education for students who have not achieved the entry requirements for their desired university degree. This could be because the school systems are different in their home countries and do not align in the same way, or because their grades are not high enough for entry to their desired course. 

“A pathway program focuses on strengthening core skills to set students up for success in not only their future university studies, but also their careers,” adds Peta.

A pathway program is a great way to discover your future study goals and help you work towards them at a pace that is relaxed yet constructive. 

What benefits can an international student gain by undertaking a pathway program?

Guided transition

“Pathways, such as those offered by SIBT, will provide a supportive and balanced approach to adapting to a new education system and new country,” says Bernadette.

Whether you are a school leaver who needs to get on track or have experienced a period of disruption, a pathway program can provide a guided transition to studying a university degree abroad. This is particularly helpful in a foreign university where the experience is new and the rules and requirements are different.

Bernadette also says, “Pathways prepare students by filling the gap between studying at high school, or being in the workforce and having not studied in a long while, to being able to study an undergraduate or postgraduate degree and keep up with the demands of a university.” In other words, the support you will receive will help you find your feet when you face a more challenging level of study. 

The program is also a great welcome to Australia. Enrolling in a pathway program gives you the opportunity to adapt to your new home without the pressures of tertiary education, such as increased workload and exam stress.

“We are focused on developing not only the subject knowledge, but the study skills to be successful when students transition to university,” says Peta. 

Personalised high-quality education

The education provided by pathway programs aligns with the national curriculum and is designed to help you gain entry into an Australian university. International students seeking a place in an Australian university will benefit from excellent tuition in a pathway program, whilst gaining the necessary qualifications to move into their degree of choice. 

Pathways can also provide high-level academic support for students studying online onshore and offshore, and this has made a real difference during the pandemic, so students can continue to pursue their academic dreams.

“One of the biggest benefits from undertaking a pathway program, especially at SIBT, is the support available to students throughout their studies,” says Peta. “We keep classes small so that teachers can really get to know their students and target help and support to meet their individual needs.” 

A pathway program is also a fantastic way to improve your English language skills, providing the staff engagement and cultural immersion required to develop your vocabulary before commencing university.  

What can you expect from a pathway program?

Pathway program providers recognise that each student comes from a different study background and has different aspirations and preferences. When you sign up for a pathway program, you can expect personalised study support that is tailored to your needs, whether you’re onshore or offshore.

Entering university can leave you feeling like a small fish in a large pond, especially when adjusting to the independent study style of tertiary education. The staff care offered by pathway programs is invaluable to international students in need of practical, academic and personal support. You can expect assistance in matters such as accommodation, subject selection, visa enquiries, and university entrance – which will help you settle into life in Australia. 

Where can a pathway program lead you?

A pathway program can lead to a bachelor degree of your choice. Pathway programs support you by filling some gaps in your knowledge or helping you meet the entry requirements for an Australian university. In some cases, it can also offer direct entry into undergraduate study, often with advanced standing. For instance, when students successfully complete their Diploma at SIBT, they gain credit for their first year, and can enrol directly into the second year of their degree at Western Sydney University, Sydney City Campus (WSUSCC). 

“Our diplomas are created to mimic a first-year bachelor degree, whilst providing the support you need to be successful,” shares Bernadette. “We offer direct pathways into WSUSCC, where students don’t lose time or extend their studies by years. They’re able to complete a bachelor’s degree in 3-4 years.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help if you need it,” suggests Peta. “That’s what we are here for! And don’t be afraid to accept the support your program provides, as it will give you the best chance of success.”

“The best way a student can prepare is to come with a willingness to learn and an open mind,” says Bernadette.

Pathway programs will serve as a great introduction to Australian tertiary education and welcome new students to Australia.

“We can ensure students meet like-minded people and get the education qualification they want, but it’s best done when a student embraces the full experience,” Bernadette concludes.