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from refugee to university via TAFE NSW TPC

TAFE NSW Coffs Harbour

from refugee to university via TAFE NSW TPC

16 January 2019


Warda Ali was already a first-year university of health science student when she and her family were granted Australian humanitarian visas, enabling their escape from war-torn Iraq.


In late 2014, after ISIS began the genocide of women and children in their hometown of Sinjar in the Yazidi region of Northern Iraq, Warda and her family fled to safety in Dohuk. During their two years there, they shared a home with five other families and tried to make the best of the heart-wrenching situation.


Upon settling in Coffs Harbour, Warda found her past studies were not recognised in Australia and set out to regain lost ground. One of her first steps was to enrol in the Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation (TPC) offered by TAFE NSW, a one-year HSC equivalent that provides students with a Tertiary Entrance Score.


Upon completing this in November at TAFE NSW Coffs Harbour, Warda applied to several universities and was delighted to be accepted into three plus offered two scholarships. She will soon move to Newcastle to study a Bachelor of Pharmacy.


Warda says, “I love health sciences and want to be a pharmacist so I can help others. I was told TAFE NSW provided a simpler way to do the HSC so I could successfully apply for an Australian university course and it was only a one year commitment. A university told me what subjects I needed to do to get into a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree and I followed their instructions.”


“I am so lucky to have a chance to study in a country like Australia so why not study hard and do my best.”


Warda understood she needed to improve her English too, to better complete her studies and gain employment. Over the past two years she has also completed the Certificate II and Certificate III in Written and Spoken English offered by TAFE NSW.


Her studies helped Warda to secure employment as an interpreter for the local hospital network. And now her latest success is the three university acceptances, a testament to both her determination to thrive and the teaching excellence provided by her TAFE NSW teachers.


She says, I am motivated to study hard on behalf of my community in Iraq. Maybe one day I will be able to help others like me who have suffered war and displacement.”


“Once I complete my Bachelor of Pharmacy then I’ll try my best to help people as a pharmacist. Whether that is here or in Iraq, I’m not sure. What I do know is that I am looking forward to moving to Newcastle to study and to coming back to Coffs Harbour for holidays.


“I also hope to be a role model to refugees in regional communities, showing them the benefits of studying at TAFE NSW. I hope I motivate them to study hard, achieve their goals and be valuable to the community.”


The Tertiary Preparation Certificate is offered throughout the state and online via TAFE Digital. For more information visit or call 131 601.


Media contact: Kristy Sheppard, TAFE NSW Media & Communications Business Partner, 4923 7784 or 0407 450 860.