About the Program

  • Costs

    Successful applicants receive a full scholarship from the University of Adelaide, which waives both the tuition fees and the Student Services and Amenities Fee for any courses studied as part of the Headstart program. Each student is responsible for costs associated with textbooks, materials, equipment, field trips and travel to and from campus.

  • Headstart contact hours and timetable

    Courses are offered on the North Terrace Campus only and Headstart students are expected to attend all classes to gain maximum benefit from their university studies. Classes are usually delivered between Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm. Classes are not offered at nights or on weekends. The number of contact hours will vary between courses and may be between 3-6 hours per week, spread across various classes (e.g. lectures, tutorials, workshops and practicals) and days of the week. Students will also need to undertake self-directed study outside of these hours to complete preparation, readings and assignments. Note that some courses will not have a large variety of class times to choose from, so it is important to take this into consideration.

    Students must refer to the university timetable for courses they are applying for and the school timetable must clearly indicate any subjects which will be dropped or lessons that can be missed in order to attend university classes should the application be accepted.

    2024 timetable information will be available from 4 December 2023 on Course Planner.

    Information about the Academic Year dates, including semester dates, breaks and exam periods is available. Headstart participants are responsible for ensuring that they are available for the full duration of teaching and assessment.

  • Enrolment

    Headstart students are not enrolled in a degree but are considered as Non-Award students. Upon enrolment they will receive a student card that provides access to the full range of student services offered on campus and full borrowing rights at the University Libraries.

  • Mentoring

    Each Headstart student must nominate a staff member from their school as a mentor. The mentor’s role will be to monitor student progress and act as a contact person linking the University to the student within the school. They will not be required to provide academic support.

    The University of Adelaide will provide an ongoing role of coordination and support. This will include:

    • liaison between the University and Headstart students, their parents/guardians, principals and mentor
    • tracking students’ progress through their university studies
    • organising academic and peer support for students.
  • Learning environment

    The University offers a fully adult learning environment and, while there are many support services and normal duty of care applies, the University does not take on the same responsibilities of care that schools assume under the Teachers’ Registration and Standards Act and other legislation.

    The student, school and parents/guardians need to make a judgment as to whether the student will adapt to involvement in university life. It is important for them to understand that this can be significantly different from the secondary school environment.

  • University assessment, grades and credit

    Headstart students attend classes, submit assignments and sit examinations the same as other university students. More information can be found on the student examinations and results website.

    Grades are recorded on the students University of Adelaide academic record and any student who passes a Headstart course can receive credit into related University of Adelaide degrees. This enables students to fast-track their academic program or study additional courses. Headstart participants will receive their Academic Transcript at the conclusion of their participation in the program.

  • Withdrawal

    Headstart students must carefully consider the consequences of withdrawal from the program to ensure it will not affect their completion of the SACE. The University only accepts withdrawal in close consultation with the student’s school mentor.

    If a Headstart student withdraws from, or fails, a course at any stage of the year, this will not affect their chances of university selection (unless it prevents them from completing the SACE). No record of failure or withdrawal will be registered by the University of Adelaide.

  • Headstart and the SACE

    The SACE Board recognises and grants SACE credits for appropriate qualifications, subjects, courses, or learning experiences, which includes university studies. Recognition can be granted for up to 20 credits of the SACE at Stage 2.

    If you have already completed a 20 credit VET Course or a single IB subject as a Stage 2 SACE student you will only be able to have 20 credits worth towards your ATAR. Please contact the SACE Board for more information on your individual circumstance. 

    Recognition towards the SACE is reported on the Record of Achievement as a number of SACE credits ‘granted’, and is not accompanied by a result (e.g. a grade or score). Satisfactory achievement in any university subject will be reported as ‘University Studies’. This entry will receive the designation ‘granted’ and the relevant number of credits. More information on recognition is available on the SACE website.

    Each Headstart course is equivalent to 10 credits.

    Recognition of university studies is by application to the SACE Board using the Recognition Application (Stage 1 and Stage 2) equivalent studies form on the SACE website.

    The recognition application form must be completed by the student and their school in two steps;

    • Step 1: When the student is accepted into the Headstart program, to have the subject and course combination approved, and
    • Step 2: On completion of the Headstart course(s), once the students academic transcript has been provided by the University of Adelaide.

    Recognition of a Headstart course cannot be completed until the academic transcript is available, which will follow grades release date of the students' final Headstart semester.

  • Headstart and the university aggregate/ATAR

    The Selection Rank is calculated from a student’s best scaled scores from three 20 credit TAS plus the best outcome from the flexible option (30 credits). The flexible option may include recognised learning that has been approved by the SACE Board.

    Grades will count towards the students’ Selection Rank as agreed to by the SACE Board:
    HD = 10.0 D = 9.9 C = 9.0 P = 7.9

    The university aggregate is then converted to an ATAR. More information on this process can be found in the SATAC Tertiary Entrance booklet.

    Due to the timing of Step 2 of the recognition application, the Selection Rank may need to be recalculated and the SACE certificate reissued, however, this will not impact university offers.

    Please note: Students who have already had a Selection Rank issued are unable to count recognised learning in subsequent attempts, therefore applications will not be accepted from Year 13 students.

  • Headstart and eligibility for competitions and university entry

    Participation in university level studies may impact eligibility for some competitions and for certain university degrees. Applicants are responsible for seeking further information prior to participation if required.

    Participation in a university level maths program (e.g. Mathematics IA/IB) may disqualify students from participation in the Australian Mathematics Olympiad. Any student participating needs to contact the Australian Mathematical Trust’s Executive Director.

    Most university applications will require information about any tertiary (university) studies that applicants have previously completed. If undertaking tertiary studies may impact application or eligibility (e.g. for Medicine programs) students are advised to seek further advice from the relevant University or application centre. At the time of publication, participating in the Headstart program does not impact student’s eligibility for the Bachelor of Medical Studies and Doctor of Medicine at the University of Adelaide.