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More Than Your ATAR: Distance Study Options

By August 5, 2021October 5th, 2021No Comments

Just because you can’t make it to a classroom every day doesn’t mean you can’t take on study after school!

With COVID-19 still causing a lot of problems, distance and online study are in high demand, and there are many ways you can get a world class education without having to move away from home.

We know that who you are, what you are capable of and what you want to do is shaped by so much more than exam results.


Distance or online education is a growing industry in Australia. Even prior to the pandemic, one in four university students were completing some study online, and TAFE Digital boasts more than 100,000 enrolments Australia-wide and internationally.

For rural and regional students, like you, online or distance study is practical option.

Without the need to travel and find accommodation it can be much cheaper and less stressful. Distance study also enables you to stay at home should you have family or employment commitments, and it can be a way to get your further education journey started even if you aren’t quite ready to move what can be 100’s of kilometers away from the safety net of family and friends.

If you are  thinking about distance study but still aren’t sure, take a couple of minutes to read this article from the ABC on how the pandemic has given regional students the opportunity to study from home, why these students have seen the move to online learning as a benefit and why it might be a really good first option.

‘The Benefits of Studying University Online’ is a great article from Study Work Grow outlining why you might consider doing your university degree via distance, what you will need and how to get started.

If you think this might be for you then keep reading.

Almost all Australian universities offer flexible and online learning delivery options, for either part of the course or 100% online.

Distance study facilities have come along way, they had to because of COVID! So you can be sure you will still get a top notch education and support from the comfort of home.

It’s pretty simple to research your options – all you need to do is type ‘online university study Australia’ into Google or, if you have an institution in mind, you can find out their online offerings on their website.

Heather Walker is a CEF Grenfell grant recipient with bucket loads of personality and determination!

Not only is she now studying a Bachelor of Education TAS (Technology and Applied Studies) online through Charles Sturt University, she has already completed her Cert III in Agriculture & Cert IV in Wool Classing through TAFE. Her vocational training was primarily completed via distance well!

Heather is a ‘CEF Aspirational Influencer’ and was the joint winner of our CEF Rising Star Alumni Award in 2020.

You can read more about Heather HERE and HERE.

“The online learning platform has opened up my eyes to understanding that online learning isn’t bad. When I first decided to complete my studies online it was mentioned to me that it will be hard, and you don’t get to experience the uni life as much as some do on campus. I have come to understand that at times I do work best online rather than in the classroom, and with my course offered online I chose to stay in my home town – and it has opened endless opportunities.“

Our friends at the Country Universities Centre are all about online study, and making it easy for rural and regional students to study from home.

“Five benefits for staying regional for university students” is a recent blog on their website, and might help you make your mind up about distance study!


Country Universities Centre (CUC) is not only a friend of CEF, they are also a great partner! Currently, the CUC network includes 12 Centres across NSW, Queensland and Victoria. You can check to see if there is a CUC in your area HERE.

Their Centres provide free access to high-speed internet, modern technology, and general academic support to help students succeed in their studies. The Centres also provide opportunities to engage with fellow students in the local community.

Each CUC has a Centre Manager who provides administrative, general academic, well-being, and technology support. CUC students also have access to Learning Skills Advisors who are able to provide one-on-one academic guidance on interpreting assignment questions, writing essays and accurate referencing. Pretty awesome, right?!

Check out this GREAT BLOG  on the support that CEF Snowy Monaro grant recipient Kat Cyn has received from the CUC during her online learning experience.


CUC is a member of the Regional University Centres network. So, if there is no CUC in your area, there might be a RUC study hub. There are currently 16 Centres, across Australia.

For a full list of centres, click on the map.

The hubs feature video-conferencing, lecture and tutorial rooms, computer stations and workshops delivered by local instructors. The Centres are also equipped with high-speed internet.

Alternatively, Open Universities Australia (OUA) offers more than 390 degrees through many of Australia’s leading universities.

They provide you with enrolment support, offer online study resources and essay support to help get you through that degree via distance no matter your previous study experience.

They also offer short courses so you can try out some content to get an idea of what you might like first.


Maybe university study doesn’t appeal to you, or just isn’t your thing. That’s fine! There are other online study options for you.

Here are some of them, and we will cover them off in more detail later in our ‘More Than Your ATAR’ blog series, so keep an eye out!

If vocational study is your thing, like TAFE, there are many providers that offer online options for this type of study.
Here are some links to distance study information from key providers in each state or territory to get you started:


Victorian TAFE AssociationSTUDY NT

“Flexibility in the delivery of vocational education and training that allows students and employees to learn when, where and how they want is vital in raising the profile of regional learning.”
TAFE NSW Spokesperson

With the motto ‘learn for life’ CEF is proud to have Careerhouse on board as a new partner this year.

They offer online, industry-relevant short courses. They work with industry leading educators and learning institutions to make available relevant, practical and interactive courses.

“What are the benefits of flexible online learning?” is a great recent blog from Careerhouse.

If a short course is something you are interested in, have a look at their website – plus, and they offer 100 hardship scholarships each year, so check your eligibility for one of these while you are at it!

Open Colleges is the largest, private, online vocational educator in Australia, with more than 25,000 active students. They offer nationally recognised courses designed and delivered by industry professionals. With support teams to help you with everything from basic questions, enrolment and academic assistance, this can be really helpful when you are unsure how to navigate all aspects of online study.


If you really want to study after school, but moving away, travelling or other commitments make it impossible, then distance education might be for you.

Whether you want to undertake some short courses, jump into a university degree or undertake VET sector training, there are options out there, and in our new digitally connected world, the number of options is only going to grow.

We know that wanting to study is perhaps the easy part, but how you will manage without a class timetable can be cause for real concern. Rest assured, with rural and regional education a real focus for government and communities, there are a number of support options available to you that can make the experience better and more rewarding than ever before.

“The main reason we love living in a regional town is the incredible sense of belonging that comes with being a part of a small community. The decision to leave your home town to pursue higher education means leaving the warmth and comfort of being surrounded by family and friends. This is where the option of staying where you love to live while achieving your desired pathways for your future brings the best of both worlds. Once you have taken the time to discover your passions and the right career pathway based on this, the next step is finding a higher education provider to enrol with. Once enrolled, the CUC in your town will become your home away from home and you will be surrounded with support to help your choices become a reality.”

The More Than Your ATAR series will  cover topics such as:

We’ll be talking to all the experts – students, CEF volunteers, high school and university advisors to help you on this long, windy road!


Author Nicole

CEF Engagement & Development

More posts by Nicole

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