Career change a major trend for established workers

Published 5 September 2019
Annette McCormick and Gabriella Wayne Education students Annette McCormick and Gabriella Wayne

Gold Coasters are reinventing themselves. Figures from Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus show people in their late 20s to early 40s are returning to study in droves.

The reasons spearheading these career changes are varied, but many mature age students from professional or trade backgrounds either want to upskill or change direction completely.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students) and Dean of Education Professor Nan Bahr said Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus was responding to the changing career landscape through a nationally unique student support system and a mixed mode approach to courses offered in person and online.

She said the myth that University study was only for young people had been busted, with the average student age at Southern Cross University closer to 30 than 20.

“Many of these mature age students have often already experienced a career and have figured out the direction they want to take and are dedicated to undertaking that transformation,” Professor Bahr said.

“Some students continue to work full or part time to support their families and responsibilities, while others dive headfirst into study to complete it in the shortest timeframe.

We’re finding an increasing number of workers on the Gold Coast are choosing to study here in the city where they want to live and work, revitalising the Gold Coast economy in the process, rather than moving interstate.”

Third year Bachelor of Education students Gabriella Wayne and Annette McCormick met in their first mathematics subject after each decided to study after having children.

Both women received Dean’s Honours Awards this week for academic excellence and commitment to studies.

After completing high school on the Gold Coast Gabriella embarked on a decade-long career in real estate, starting as an office junior, working her way into sales and climbed the ranks to become an organisational leader, managing seven offices across Gold Coast and Brisbane.

The Robina local, now aged 28, said when she fell pregnant she found her purpose and the reason she wanted to change careers.

“I understood how important it is for every child to have a great education and become the people they are meant to be, and the course at Southern Cross University has been life altering,” she said.

“I chose Southern Cross for the location and for the staff – they were so welcoming of me even when I was juggling with feeding my five-month-old and attending classes. I’ve met an amazing group of friends, including connecting with lots of parents who are also studying.

“The way uni is structured ensures we aren’t just a number and we’re able to develop personal relationships with tutors and teaching staff.”

Three quarters of domestic students studying at Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus are mature age - that is aged 20 and older - a trend that has continued to grow in recent years.

Annette, 38, had always wanted to become a teacher aide, but it was only after nine years in retail and after having her second child she decided to pursue a career as a qualified teacher.

“When we were looking for primary school options for my son who has additional needs, I realised the huge need for teachers who specialise in that area and are passionate about helping students like my son, so I enrolled in the degree and haven’t looked back,” she said.

Southern Cross University has a five-star Overall Student Support ranking in the Australian Good Universities Guide and is the Gold Coast’s second largest University by numbers.

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or