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TAFE NSW helps teen forge own path to university


TAFE NSW helps teen forge own path to university

TAFE NSW graduate Talia Ku beams with her TAFE NSW Excellence Award from Dr Raf Marcellino.

20 June 2023

A young Padstow local has bucked the trend and started her dream biomedical engineering degree early thanks to fast-tracked university entry through TAFE NSW.

Seventeen-year-old Talia Ku is encouraging other high achieving high school students to consider getting ahead by studying a vocational preparation course through TAFE NSW in place of their HSC.

Talia’s choice to forge her own path to university reflects the growing trend among bachelor’s degree students to enter university through pathways other than the HSC and ATAR, like VET courses[1].

As a national level synchronised ice skater, Talia said the decision to leave school at the end of Year 10 and complete the one-year Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation at TAFE NSW Ultimo was easy.

“I’ve always wanted to study biomedical engineering at university so I knew I needed an entrance pathway, but I was getting ahead at school and wanted to grow in my independence. The Tertiary Preparation Course was perfect because it gave me a tertiary entrance score and access to university, while preparing me for a more mature learning environment and being flexible enough to support my ice skating,” Talia said.

“I was able to choose from a broad range of subjects that interested me like mathematics and science courses, so I was well-prepared when I started university this year.

“Through TAFE NSW I grew in my communication and time management skills and learned how to take charge of my own learning, but I also felt very supported by my teachers.”

Talia was recently awarded Career Pathways, Aboriginal Languages and Employability Skills Student of the Year at the TAFE NSW Excellence Awards.

TAFE NSW Executive Director Education and Skills for Sydney, Raf Marcellino, commended Talia for the commitment and dedication she has shown to her studies.

“These awards recognise our most passionate, industrious and skillful students, and the fact teachers are the ones who nominate the students makes it even more special,” Dr Marcellino said.

“I have no doubt Talia will go on to forge a highly successful career and will be a wonderful ambassador for TAFE NSW.”

While her peers complete Year 12 this year, Talia has already completed one semester of university and is on track to complete her five-year degree with honours at the age of 21.

Media contact: TAFE NSW Media Centre,, 02 7920 5000​​​​.