Applying for our 2021 Early Entry Program

If you’re currently studying an Australian Year 12 or International Baccalaureate (IB), this could be for you. Here are all the things you need to know and do if you’re keen on an early conditional offer from us. Plus, your next steps towards securing a full offer.

Most importantly, there are three steps to your application. Step one involves obtaining your school recommendation. Step two is preferencing your chosen 2021 Early Entry Program course/s in VTAC. And step three is completing the application form on our website (you’ll have to upload your school recommendation here too).

A bit of prep work

First things first – check that the course you want to study is offered in our 2021 Early Entry Program. Hop onto our webpage for the course and make sure you read all the course prerequisites in How To Enter This Course.  You should also have a look at Course Details to understand your course structure  if you successfully get in. If you feel like doing extra, take a look at the Course Planner.
Don’t forget that you’ll still need to complete VCE (or equivalent Australian Year 12) and achieve a study score of 20 in any English (except EAL). This is five points lower than what’s required in the standard entry for degrees. If your chosen course has other prerequisites, such as maths, you’ll also have to meet those.
Start a conversation with your teachers or career practitioner and let them know that you’re thinking about applying to our Early Entry Program. See what they say and take their advice on board.


Step 1 – the recommendation

Ok, things are getting serious now. You’ll need to ask for a recommendation from your school principal (they can also nominate a representative), Year 12 or VCE coordinator, career practitioner or equivalent. They will be required to sign a recommendation that states the following:

This student has a reasonable prospect of success in future higher education studies and that they:

  • have the capacity to learn and play an active role in their own learning;
  • have the essential skills in literacy and numeracy and are creative and productive users of technology as a foundation for success in all learning areas;
  • are able to think deeply and logically, and obtain and evaluate evidence in a disciplined way
  • are creative, innovative and resourceful, and are able to solve problems in ways that draw upon a range of learning areas and disciplines;
  • are able to plan activities independently, collaborate, work in teams and communicate ideas;
  • are able to make sense of their world and think about how things have become the way they are.

(Drawn from the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, MCEETYA, 2008)

The form also asks for a statement from your referee that details educational disadvantages you may have faced this year – things like disrupted schooling, illness or other stressful events. 

Download the recommendation form here [PDF 104KB] ‌ and get in touch with your school representative. You may not be able to get a meeting right away, so the sooner you start the process, the better.

Step 2 – preferencing your course in VTAC

This is an important step if you’re aiming for a full offer from Swinburne. You’ll need to start a VTAC account (this step creates a VTAC ID for you), then preference your chosen 2021 Early Entry Program course/s. The earliest you can do this is 3 August, when VTAC opens. Quick note – full offers will be made after VCE, at the same time we make standard entry offers.

Step 3 – submitting your 2021 Early Entry Program application

Make sure to sign up for updates, so you’ll be the first to know when our application form is live, and your completed recommendation is due (this will be in August, aligning with VTAC’s dates). As part of the application form, you’ll need to write a Supporting Statement From Applicant (in 500 words or less) telling us why you wish to study a university degree and detailing your other achievements and activities. This Supporting Statement will be considered as part of the selection process. You’ll also need to upload your school recommendation. By completing it, you acknowledge that you’ve explored your preference options and received guidance from your school. Remember that VTAC ID we mentioned in Step 2? You’ll have to pop it into our form too.

We may contact your referee to validate your application once it’s received. If you’re successful, you could receive a conditional offer before August is over!

Tell me more

What courses are included in the 2021 Early Entry Program and what are their VTAC codes?

Have a look at our full list of eligible courses here. 

I’ve signed up to receive updates on your 2021 Early Entry Program. What should I do next?

Make sure you visit the webpage for your chosen course. Read the prerequisites for entry as well as course details. Look into the descriptions of each unit you’ll be studying to understand the level of commitment required. It’s also a good idea to tell your teachers you want to apply for this program and ask for their feedback before applying. Download the recommendation form [PDF 104KB]‌ so you can show it to them.

When will I find out whether I have an early conditional offer?

If you made your application correctly and included your school’s recommendation, you could hear from us as early as August.

Who should I approach for my school recommendation?

You can choose one of the following school representatives as your referee –school principal (or principal’s delegate), Year 12 or VCE coordinator or equivalent.

What is my Supporting Statement From Applicant and what should I include in it?

The Supporting Statement From Applicant is a section in your online application form. It helps us assess your suitability for the program and is a part of the selection process. Please include your reasons for applying to study a university degree and other information on your academic and extra-curricular achievements, work experience, community service or other volunteer work. You can do this in 500 words or less. 

After submitting my application to Swinburne, do I still have to preference my 2021 Early Entry Program course/s in VTAC?

Yes. This is really important. To receive a full offer from Swinburne, your 2021 Early Entry Program course/s must be your highest eligible preference/s in your VTAC application.

Should I still preference the ATAR-entry version of my chosen course/s in VTAC?

If you’re aiming for the Guaranteed Entry ATAR for your course, that’s great!  If this motivates you to work harder, then definitely include it on your preference list. But if you’re planning on entering via the 2021 Early Entry Program, make sure to preference the correct VTAC code and submit your school recommendation. In this case, preferencing the ATAR-entry version is optional.

How did you choose the courses offered in this program?

We carefully reviewed our courses and included only those where a school recommendation would be a reasonable alternative to selection via ATAR.  Places in specialist courses like aviation and film & television are limited by specialist facilities and studio capacity, while nursing and education courses have compulsory entry requirements set by external bodies.

Are places in the 2021 Early Entry Program limited?

As with all Australian universities, we have a limited number of Commonwealth Supported Places. This impacts both ATAR-entry applicants, as well as Early Entry Program applicants. Closing dates for the Program will align to key VTAC dates, and we’ll publish this by August. Make sure to sign up for updates so you’ll be the first to find out. 

Will students applying with their ATAR be competing with those applying via the 2021 Early Entry Program?

Swinburne is committed to helping students of all backgrounds and circumstances. The 2021 Early Entry Program was created to provide an alternative entry pathway for students who would otherwise be disadvantaged by their interrupted school year. In doing so, we made sure that neither group of applicants would negatively impact the other.

How will you balance the number of offers given to ATAR applicants versus 2021 Early Entry Program applicants?

All applicants must still apply via VTAC and will only receive their full offer after VCE. We’ll make sure that ATAR applicants are not are not disadvantaged by conditional offers received by 2021 Early Entry Program applicants and vice versa. You should choose the entry pathway that best suits you. It’s been an uncertain year, so, if you’re seeking certainty, the Program may be the right choice. Even with an early conditional offer in August, you could do better than you expected at VCE. If that happens, you have the option to change your preference and be accepted into your course via that standard ATAR pathway.

What if my school is reluctant to give me a recommendation?

This is a bit like asking for a bigger allowance from your parents. Seed the idea but expect to have more than one conversation about it. So, start by speaking to a teacher or career practitioner you trust soon! Listen to their feedback. If they seem unsure about you jumping into a bachelor degree, we recommend thinking (and telling them) about our UniLink diplomas as an alternative pathway into your chosen degree. We want to make sure that you’re making the choice that’s right for you.

Does one recommendation cover me, no matter what 2021 Early Entry Program course I choose?

Yes, since the recommendation simply states that you are reasonably likely to succeed in higher education courses. You should check to see whether your chosen course has additional subject study score prerequisites too. It‘s also really important to get your school’s take on which courses you’ll do well in. Our aim is for you to find the course that’s right for you and your future. 

I’m an international student. Can I apply for this program?

If you’re currently studying an Australian Year 12, and studying Units 3 and 4 English (except EAL), you absolutely can.

I’m studying the International Baccalaureate (IB). Can I apply for this program?

Yes, you can.

Do I need to submit multiple recommendations if I'm interested in preferencing multiple courses?

No you don’t, since the recommendation simply states that you are reasonably likely to succeed in higher education courses. So, whether you’re preferencing one course or many, you only need to submit a single recommendation. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you meet any required subject study score prerequisites too.

You may still choose to submit multiple recommendations and receive multiple early conditional offers. But what’s really important is the order in which you preference the courses in VTAC. Remember – you will still receive an offer for your highest eligible preference, so make sure you place the course you really want first!

Will the 2021 Early Entry Program pathway be noted on my transcript?

No. We do not record entry pathways on transcripts. You’ll be studying the same course as those who entered via their ATAR. 

I am studying English as an Additional Language (EAL). Can I apply for the 2021 Early Entry Program?

As of right now, we have finalised entry requirements for those studying Units 3 and 4 English. However, we’re still working out ways to support students studying English as an Additional Language (EAL), and hope to have an answer by the end of July, at the very latest!  

Meanwhile, if you are studying EAL, you should still register your interest and find out how to apply. As soon we have firm plans, we’ll be in touch with your career practitioner and update this answer.