Returning to Study in 2020? Things to consider before taking the leap.

New year’s resolution: returning to study? Here’s a checklist before you get back in the saddle!

Returning to study after a hiatus or professional career? Need to weigh up the pros and cons? Here’s a look into all the things to consider before you apply and enrol.

For many people a fond new year’s tradition is writing a list of resolutions or goals for the year ahead. More often than not career and education are high on that list, whether it be looking for a new job, starting a new course or learning a new skill. If you’re among that group looking ahead to 2020 hoping to tick off study goals, here are a few things to consider.

Have you done your research?

Make sure you look into the specifics of the course, speak to a course advisor at the college or university, or even speak to a member of Faculty and ask about the relevancy of the course in line with your objectives and job prospects. Make sure you find out early on, before you commit to anything, what the contact hours are and the expectations of study. Is it a course with lots of face to face hours, or minimal hours with lots of independent study? Think about how that will factor into your existing routine and how much time you can realistically dedicate to it.



Check the number of contact study hours and see how this will factor in to your schedule.


How will you manage costs?

Investing in study is an upfront cost that pays off in the long run. However, in the short term you will have to offset the pinch of costs when you’re working fewer hours and earning less. It’s also important to remember that there are extra costs like course materials to think of which can sometimes sneak up on you. It’s also important when looking for the right course to pay attention to the fee options as well as the financial support that’s available to you. Options for support include:

  • Government loans - (see if the course you want to study is supported by HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP). Always use a FEE-HELP repayment calculator so you can map out financially what your commitment will entail. Deakin University’s repayment calculator is a great one to try.
  • Employer assistance – if your course or area of study relates to your current job, ask your employer if they offer financial support for study or even accommodate study leave to help support your work/study balance
  • Scholarships – look closely on university/college websites to see their information or criteria relating to scholarships (both full and partial) that they offer. There is usually strict criteria and eligibility requirements, so if you’re banking on this as the only viable option to commence study, make sure you fit the part.
  • Government financial assistance – the Australian government has schemes in place to assist students with the cost of living while they’re studying, look into their requirements to see if you’re eligible for Austudy or Youth Allowance.

For more general information and FAQs read more here



Check to see if your institution of choice offers night classes, or the option to study part time or online.


How will you manage the time?

Even the most organised person can get overwhelmed when you add study on top of the juggle of day-to-day work and life. Most universities and colleges offer flexible study options. Check to see if they offer night classes, or the option to study part time or online. A good tip is to draft a week-to-week schedule to map out your time and your workload. It is worthwhile talking to your workplace and discussing whether it’s feasible to work four days a week while you study? Can you have support to take a week of leave during exams? In some instances where your study relates to work, it will ultimately make you a more valuable asset and they may be more inclined to support you. If applicable, check out where you might be eligible for credit for prior learning or work experience. If so, you might be able to knock credit points off the length of your degree, meaning you can complete the course faster. Be prepared you may need to apply ahead of time and complete lengthy application paperwork.



Always check the entry requirements and see what prerequisite study is needed (if any).


What will your pathway to uni be?

If you’re commencing study for the first time it can be daunting scrolling through course criteria unsure if you’ve done the right prerequisites? The same goes if you’re returning to or commencing study later in life – do you have the right experience? Will previous completed study count for anything? In fact, universities offer many ways to get into your course of choice. Check the application requirements, as many institutions offer Diploma courses which require little to no precursory requirements and are both specialised and foundational, as well as a fantastic entry point into an area of study. Many of these Diploma courses are pathways to Bachelor courses and are a great option if you want an introductory course, only want to commit for a shorter period of time, or only have enough FEE-HELP allowance left to complete a short course (that is if you’re returning to study hoping to use government loans again).

Future beyond study…

So, you’ve enrolled in your course, completed it part or full time and you’ve finally finished? Where to now? What are the job prospects from a diploma or bachelor degree? The Federal Government surveyed more than 120,000 university graduates in 2018 and found almost three-quarters had gained a job four months after leaving university. (ABC News, 2019)

The resurgence of mature age students returning to study is linked to some other not-so-positive data. The Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018 discovered that while a university degree does result in improved job and salary prospects, especially for post-graduates, there is also a huge number of graduates not using the skills they acquired at university when they get a job. This change in industry skill and demand has seen graduates almost immediately lagging behind, not having all the necessary skills required of them. This has also affected employees already in the fold of the work force, lagging behind because they’re not up to scratch with new technologies, skills and fluencies. The data also showed that only 57 per cent of undergraduates who were employed full time following university felt their qualification was important for their current employment. Overall, 39 per cent of undergraduates who were employed full time following university felt their qualification was important for their current employment.



2018 data shows that about 73 per cent of university graduates were employed four months after graduation.


So how useful is a university degree in the long term in securing full-time, well-paid employment?

About 73 per cent of university graduates were employed four months after graduation in 2018 – the best result since 2014.

But 10 years ago, just prior to the global financial crisis, that number was 85 per cent. The survey report says that since the financial crisis, graduates have taken longer to gain a foothold in the labour market.

From a strategic point of view, the most valuable thing to consider is job trends. Especially if you’re returning to study, want to shift careers or are studying for the first time and unsure of what to pursue, as this is the best value indicator. Programming continues to be one of the most in demand fields current and emerging. According to a 2020 prediction made by the Sydney Morning Herald there are about 85,600 software and application programmers employed in Australia and by 2020, that will grow by 117.2 per cent to 100,200 according to their statistics from the Department of Employment. “A large number of employers want to hire software engineering students but there is just not the supply coming out from universities.” (Sydney Morning Herald)

At Macleay College we recognise first-hand what the market is calling for. Our faculties are made up of staff who are working concurrently in their fields and therefore bring current and relevant insight and perspective to the classroom. User Experience for example has been named one of the most in demand disciplines in the job force today. We responded to this and have recently launched our Diploma of User Experience Design, grooming the next wave of highly sought-after specialists who will land on their feet in a market that needs and values them and are willing to pay for it.

 Why choose a Course at Macleay College?

At Macleay College we believe in real-world course content to ensure you’re job ready.

  • Our course material and teaching method incorporates the latest industry practices and real-world experience
  • Our lecturers have industry experience and up-to-date knowledge
  • Our small classes feature personalised teaching that nurtures your unique strengths

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