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Inspiring mum of four takes on uni thanks to TAFE NSW


Inspiring mum of four takes on uni thanks to TAFE NSW

Nicole Li at the TAFE NSW Excellence Awards

Student of the year and mum of four Nicole Li is calling on people to consider alternate pathways to tertiary study after opening a new chapter of her life with TAFE NSW.

The Hurstville local was recently awarded the 2021 TAFE NSW Career Pathways, Aboriginal Languages and Employability Skills Student of the Year for her incredible progression through the Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation (TPC).  

“I first came to Australia when I was 16 years old in 2004. After I graduated from high school, an unfortunate family incident left me in a deep depression,” Nicole said.  

“As I grew older, and though I had finally built a family of my own, I constantly asked myself what my purpose was. I have always had a desire to pursue higher education, with a passion for mathematics, but I was extremely hesitant because I had not picked up workbooks in more than a decade.” 

The TPC is aimed at providing mature age students with the knowledge and skills required to pursue further education at university as well as providing a recognised Tertiary Entry Score accepted by the University Admissions Centre.

TAFE NSW Educational Pathways teacher, Lisa Collins, said the Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation is very much an academic course, and much of what we do is teach students how to learn, how to reason and how to research, in preparation for further tertiary or university studies.

“Nicole was one of the most dedicated students it has ever been my pleasure to teach. Nicole already had those learning, researching and reasoning skills in place and just needed help learning to focus them.” 

“The fact that she was able to do this while raising four young children and during the 2020 pandemic year speaks to her incredible organisational skills, her ability to focus when there is so much distraction and her ability to manage time in an incredible manner.”  

Nicole says the course was incredibly challenging to tackle due to her home life schedule as a mother of four, but the benefits of her education journey have been undeniable.

“I recall, through the 18 months of study in TPC, I only managed fruitful study after my children were finally in bed and these study sessions would last well past midnight,” Nicole said. 

“Completing the TPC and receiving a high record of achievement and a high Tertiary Entrance Score has resulted in me receiving several offers from universities, including my first choice which was the Bachelor of Science and Master of Mathematical Science with a position offered in the Dalyell Scholar program at the University of Sydney.” 

Nicole said that completing the course helped her realise she was capable of anything and is encouraging anyone with ambitions to pursue higher education to consider the TPC at TAFE NSW.  

“The support and encouragement from my TPC teachers ensured that I reach my potential and am equipped with the knowledge and skills required for further education, at both the mental and academic levels.  

“I have developed long lasting friendships during my study in TAFE NSW, and have bumped in to several of my TPC classmates at Sydney University who have also gone on to further study.” 

“If you want more, if you think you deserve more, go for it. TAFE NSW is the place for you.” 

To learn more about Tertiary Preparation Study and employability pathways available at TAFE NSW head to or phone 131 601.  

Media contact: Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, mobile 0402 528 210.