Mature age students

Secondary school

A small number of government schools have a focus on adult education and cater specifically for first time enrolment and attendance of persons aged 18 years and older in an adult learning environment:

Adults under 21 years of age

If you are under 21, you can apply to enrol at a government secondary school.


  • The school must accept adult learners.
  • You must have been enrolled and attending a school (government or non-government) in the last 6 months.
  • The principal must approve the enrolment.

If you haven't been enrolled and attending a school in the last 6 months, you can still apply. However, you must meet the suitability requirements in the adult education enrolment policy.

Adults who are 21 or older

Adults who have not achieved their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) have an opportunity to complete this qualification under an Adult Education Provision (AEP). Students can only access the AEP once.

To be eligible students must:

  • be prepared to undertake and complete their SACE within five calendar years
  • not have previously obtained the SACE, International Baccalaureate, Tertiary or VET diploma, degree or SACE equivalent
  • not have been enrolled and attending a school for more than 6 months
  • be suitable for enrolment, including having a current working with children check, as outlined in the adult education enrolment policy.

Applicants will be required to sign a SACE Pathways Plan (SPP) as a prerequisite to enrolment - by signing this plan the student is agreeing to undertake and complete their SACE.

Interstate and overseas awards

Contact the SACE Board of South Australia for information on SACE equivalence for interstate or overseas senior secondary and other programs that are considered equivalent to SACE.

Other adult education pathways

A range of options are available to adults returning to study to gain a formal qualification or simply for personal interest.

Short courses and community education

Short courses or community education can help you develop new skills and prepare for work, or provide opportunities for personal growth without making a long term commitment to study.

Bridging or foundation courses

The University of South Australia and Flinders University offer courses that provide an opportunity to develop the skills needed for tertiary students to be successful. They also offer an introduction to some of the major fields of study. Courses are often held in the evening and many are available online.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

VET leads to nationally accredited qualifications ranging from Certificate to Diploma levels. VET courses are delivered by TAFE SA or other Registered Training Organisations.


Applicants over 18 who have not completed SACE can gain access to university courses by undertaking tests such as the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT).

University of the Third Age

The University of the Third Age (U3A) offers short online courses and many other useful resources for older people, especially those who are geographically physically or socially isolated. It encourages retired people to take part in lifelong learning activities for pleasure. There are no prior qualifications, no exams and no degrees awarded.

Related information

Other websites

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Page last updated 28 September 2021

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Department for Education
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