Expand your knowledge, develop your academic skills
and interact with university staff and students.
Ease your study load by up to four courses (maximum of one course per semester) when you enrol in a related UniSC program after high school. This means, you'll have fewer subjects to complete to get your degree.
When you enrol in your university degree you'll be well prepared having already completed study at this level.
Plus, you'll have made connections with UniSC's support services, staff and students - which means you've already hit the ground running toward success at university.
UniSC subsidises the cost of Headstart, decreasing the overall cost of your degree. Your first subject is free, and further subjects at a reduced rate.
If you choose to study more than one Headstart subject, the fee is $400 per additional subject. Scholarships are available to eligible applicants to cover this tuition fee.
You can select a Headstart subject in an area not offered by your school, that extends on your favourite subject at school, or use it as an opportunity to try out future career choices.
You'll gain transferable skills to support your high school studies, like critical thinking, writing and research. You'll also have access to extra study resources.
Completed university courses can contribute toward your QCE. One semester counts for 2 credits.*^
* The required standard of achievement is a grade of 4 on a 7-point scale, or a Pass grade.
^ Headstart does not contribute points towards other state senior certificates.
Students who successfully complete a UniSC Headstart course will receive a subject bonus adjustment (1 rank per course) to be applied to their ATAR score or selection rank under the Access USC scheme.
Choosing a course
Choose from a wide range of subjects.
How to apply
Follow our simple 3-step application guide to apply for a Headstart program.
Headstart key dates
Key dates for Headstart students
Get a headstart to uni
Hear about what it's like to go to uni while still in high school from some of our Headstart students.
What to expect
University is different from school. When you are in Headstart, you become a university student, studying alongside UniSC undergraduate students.
Download the Headstart Guide (PDF)
Meet Headstart students
"I learned how to manage my time wisely by creating weekly goals, and how to find resources if I needed help."
"Headstart teaches you how to balance school, study, part-time work and other interests and manage your time. Being 16, I didn’t really have those skills until going to USC.”
"During the first few weeks of my Journalism degree, I felt much more confident. Knowing how to write and reference tertiary-level assessments was a great advantage."
"Headstart is a great opportunity to see if university is something you want to consider doing even if you are not sure."
Headstart is available to study in Semester 1 and Semester 2. Year 10 students can only study Headstart in Semester 2. Each subject is taught over 13 weeks of classes followed by a two-week exam period (from February to June in Semester 1, and from July to November in Semester 2).
Your first Headstart subject is free for domestic students. Additional subjects have a reduced fee ($400 in 2022; refer to usc.edu.au/fees for 2023/2024 amount).
You should allow approximately an additional $100 per course for textbooks, photocopying and any other study-related costs.
There are over 90 Headstart subjects to study across all of our study areas. View available courses.
Headstart courses are available at all of our campuses and online. Make sure you check the subject you want to study is available at the location you’d like to study at, in the semester you’d like to study in.
To apply for Headstart you must:
- be an Australian citizen, New Zealand citizen or Australian permanent resident (ie domestic student). International students should speak with their school’s Headstart Coordinator about their eligibility for the program
- be completing a full workload of Year 10, 11 or 12. Year 10 students can only enrol in Headstart during Semester 2 (July)
- be achieving a B grade average or better*
- meet any prerequisites applicable to your chosen course
- have approval and a positive recommendation from your school
* Special circumstances may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Your school must attach a written statement outlining a case for consideration.
Generally, Headstart students have 2–5 hours of class time per week. Check your course outline online to see how often you may need to head to campus or log in to a class.
You’ll need to set aside 12.5 hours per week for personal study (including class time). You will have online learning materials to guide your learning during your personal study. This might include eModules, quizzes, podcasts or videos to review. This time is when you’ll complete set readings, write your assignments and revise for exams. This is in addition to your regular school study.
When timetables are released (approximately six weeks prior to the start of each study period), you’ll need to select your preferred class times. You will receive instructions on how to submit your class preference form in your enrolment and Orientation information.
UniSC will make every effort to enrol you in your preferred classes, but it’s good to have back-up options in case your preferred times are not available.
If your application is successful, UniSC will email you an official offer that includes instructions to complete your enrolment. Remember to check your email account regularly and throughout any school holidays so you don’t miss your offer.
You’ll also have access to UniSC’s student support services, and staff are on hand if you have questions.
Support services include:
- Career advice, including one-on-one appointments with the UniSC Career Development Team
- Academic skills workshops, study drop-ins and one-on-one sessions with an academic skills adviser
- Indigenous academic mentoring and services
- Health and wellbeing services, including free counselling sessions
If you’ve decided that Headstart is not working out and you’d like to withdraw from your subject, speak with your school’s Headstart Coordinator and then notify UniSC Student Central via email to email@example.com.
It’s important to formally withdraw from your subject before the academic penalty date to avoid receiving an ‘F’ on your UniSC transcript. Withdrawing from a Headstart subject prior to the census date will not affect your GPA at UniSC.
The key systems you need to know about when you begin your Headstart subject, include:
The Student Portal has everything you need, in one place. Once you’re enrolled in your Headstart course you can access student systems, services and support, class timetables, upcoming events, and the latest student news via your Student Portal.
Access all your course learning materials, assessment details, discussions groups and more.
Viewyour enrolment, class timetable and personal details.
Search the UniSC catalogue and databases, and find information and resources for your studies.
Manage your work experience placement (or fieldwork) including mandatory requirements like Blue Card, immunisations and insurance.
Access your UniSC student email and calendar.
Book appointments, workshops and events and search for jobs.