What is Head-Start?

Southern Cross University’s Head-Start provides an opportunity for Year 11 and 12 students (HSC or QCE) to gain direct entry and advanced standing into a variety of courses offered at Southern Cross University.

Free from university fees, the program offers you the chance to gain a taste of university life, stimulate your interest in academic pursuits and enhance your educational performance and long term aspirations.

The program has been designed for students who have the academic capability to succeed at university.

Applicants will be selected on merit, based on their academic performance, a personal statement and the recommendation of their Principal.

Applications for 2021 are now closed.

Please also see the Head-Start key dates for more information.

 Am I eligible?

If you are a year 10 or 11 student you can apply to start next year

 Where is it held?

Gold Coast, Lismore or Coffs Harbour campuses

 How much does it cost?

This is a fee-free course

 When does it start?

Registrations now open 28 April—23 October, 2020. Program runs March—June 2021.

Units available to study

gavel and books

Australian Legal System

Offered at Lismore and Gold Coast campuses.

Introduces students to the concept of law and to the Australian legal system. Discusses basic concepts such as federalism, parliamentary sovereignty, separation of powers, rule of law, statutory interpretation, the doctrine of precedent and procedural fairness. Explores issues related to Indigenous Australian peoples and to effective equality before the law for all Australians.

This subject (unit) includes an online lecture and face-to-face tutorial.

students in science laboratory


Offered at Gold Coast, Lismore and National Marine Science Centre (Coffs Harbour) campuses.

With a focus on cell structure, physio-chemical cellular responses, plant and animal physiology, structure and diversity, elementary genetics, population concepts, natural selection and evolution, this unit is ideal for those interested in developing their knowledge of the living world and scientific practical skills and report writing.

This subject (unit) includes an online lecture and face-to-face laboratory.

Student with computer board

Processes and Philosophy of Engineering

Offered at Lismore campus.

This unit focuses on the fundamental concepts of engineering process and philosophy. Skills in problem identification, concept formulation, critical and contextual thinking, project evaluation, process development and clear communication will be developed as students work in teams on a robotics project.

This subject (unit) includes an online lecture and face-to-face tutorial.

man writing on blackboard

Communication in Organisations

Offered at Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Gold Coast campuses.

This unit aims to provide the communication skills necessary for employment and academic study. Topics covered include public speaking and verbal reporting, intercultural communication, academic integrity and skill development in negotiation and persuasion.

This subject (unit) includes an online lecture and face-to-face tutorial.

Young woman sitting along with hand of another person holding light meter

Visual Communication and Design

Offered at Lismore and Gold Coast campuses.

The unit introduces students to the principles of visual communication and design through the analysis and production of a range of digital media forms. Students acquire skills in image capture, creation and manipulation, and in layout and typography, and apply them using industry-standard software in response to design briefs.

This subject (unit) includes an online lecture and face-to-face tutorial.

Nada studied the Bachelor of Media with a major in Journalism (now Bachelor of Digital Media and Communications) at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus.

My name is Nada Van Kempen, I studied a Bachelor of Media with a major in Journalism (Journalism (now Bachelor of Digital Media and Communications) at Southern Cross University's Lismore campus.

I chose the Bachelor of Media here at Southern Cross because it is really a multi-skilled degree and it can give me all the skills I need to be in the constantly growing and constantly changing media industry. I also picked it because I'm able to do a major in Journalism which I am really passionate about and the end goal is to one day be a journalist so this degree can help me get there.

One of my favourite things about being a university student is that I get to study what I want to study and I get to study what I love. So, you know, that's the major difference between high school and university is that you come to university to do what you want to do, and so every aspect of my degree I love doing it because it's where I want to be and it's what I want to do.

The campus is full of really great facilities for every single degree and I know that in my degree we have amazing studio facilities and concert facilities that we get to work in. We have, you know, production standard equipment we have TV studio equipment everything is up to professional standard and I love having the facilities here.

My advice for someone who is thinking about going to university is pick something that you love, pick something that you think will make you smile and run with it.

So I came into Southern Cross University through the Head Start program, which is a program designed to have high school students in their senior years do a unit of university study while completing their HSC. So I came into the uni through doing that and I studied a communications and organisations unit, and I successfully completed that at the beginning of year 11, and I was given my offer into the Bachelor of Media at the end of year 11. So that really took the weight off the HSC and took the worries out of that. And after the HSC I came into my first year of Bachelor of Media with Head Start behind me and it yeah it was heaps of fun and it was a really really good starting platform.

I'm Nada Van Kempen, and that's my story.