Headstart | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Headstart challenges motivated Year 10 - 12 students with university-level learning, giving you the opportunity to advance your study skills and gain credit towards a UniSC degree. You can pursue a subject of interest, experience life as a uni student and enhance your academic skills as you blend high school learning with university study.

You can complete up to four first-year UniSC subjects (one per semester) during Years 10 (available in Semester 2 only) to Year 12.

The benefits

Gain credit towards a UniSC degree

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.

Prepare for university

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.

Save money

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.

Broaden your education

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.

Enhance your school performance

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.

Gain QCE points

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.

Adjustment factors
Students who successfully complete a UniSC Headstart course will receive a subject bonus adjustment (1 rank per course) to be applied to their ATAR or Selection rank under the Access UniSC scheme.*

*Exception: Access UniSC adjustments do not apply to the Bachelor of Medical Science.

Available courses

Take a look at the available Headstart courses on offer.

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

What to expect

University is different from school. When you are in Headstart, you become a university student, studying alongside UniSC undergraduate students.

Meet Headstart students

Kiah Vescovi

"I learned how to manage my time wisely by creating weekly goals, and how to find resources if I needed help."

Petra Nunn

"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.”

USC Journalism student Liam Bland from interning at the ABC studios in Maroochydore
Liam Bland

"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."

Kelsey Hyra
Kelsey Hyra

"Headstart is a great opportunity to see if university is something you want to consider doing even if you are not sure."

Common questions

When can I study Headstart?

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).

How much does Headstart cost?

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.

What Headstart subjects can I study?

There are over 90 Headstart subjects to study across all of our study areas. View available courses.

Where can I study Headstart? 

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.

Am I eligible for Headstart? 

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.

How much time will I need to dedicate to Headstart?  

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.

How do I create my class timetable?  

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.

How do I know if my Headstart application has been successful?  

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.

What support is available to Headstart students?  

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 

What should I do if I need to withdraw from Headstart?  

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 studentcentral@usc.edu.au.

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.

What student systems will I be using when I begin my studies at UniSC?  

The key systems you need to know about when you begin your Headstart subject, include: 

Student Portal 

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.

USC Central 

Viewyour enrolment, class timetable and personal details.


Search the UniSC catalogue and databases, and find information and resources for your studies.

Sonia Online 

Manage your work experience placement (or fieldwork) including mandatory requirements like Blue Card, immunisations and insurance.

Student email 

Access your UniSC student email and calendar.

Student Hub 

Book appointments, workshops and events and search for jobs.