No degree? No worries! Use your career as a fast track to postgrad study

First published 24 November 2020

By 2022, Lexie McGourty will have two impressive postgraduate qualifications from QUT under her belt – even though she doesn’t have an undergraduate degree. She’s one of many savvy QUT students who have used their career experience as a direct pathway into postgraduate study.

QUT has simplified its entry requirements for many graduate certificate courses to help broaden people’s study options.

It means people can gain entry into select postgraduate courses via:

  • five years (fulltime or equivalent) professional experience in a relevant area;
  • a completed diploma in a relevant area, with at least two years professional experience in a relevant area; or
  • a completed bachelor degree (or higher qualification) in any discipline.


Lexie had been working for 17 years when she embarked on her Graduate Certificate in Business (Integrated Marketing Communication) with the QUT Business School in 2017.

She graduated at the end of 2018 and has now decided to hit the books again and enrol in a Master of Business.

Most of Lexie’s career has been spent in education roles helping support other students’ study efforts, after she bypassed uni when she finished high school.

“I completed Year 12 in Armidale in 1999 and went straight to work,” recalls Lexie, who is a descendant of the Anaiwan mob in Armidale.

“I had three jobs – working at Pizza Hut, a manager role in a Konica photo lab and a retail assistant on the weekend.

“I moved to Brisbane in 2005 and worked in an equity support role at Catholic Education for a few months before securing a temporary position in student support at QUT and then my first permanent position at the uni as an administration assistant.  That led to a role as a school liaison officer where I helped high schools connect with the university.

“In recent years, I’ve worked in the research space and provided support to Indigenous postgraduate students doing higher degree research.

“Since 2019, I have been the Team Leader of Learning Support in QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit, working to support more than 850 Indigenous students at QUT.”

The new QUT Education Precinct at Kelvin Grove is home to the Oodgeroo Unit.


Lexie said she’d always been interested in education and business, and completed a traineeship in business administration while still in Armidale.

Back in 2006 she had started an undergraduate business degree at QUT … but she put her studies on hold for years when she had children.

“By 2014, I’d entered back into the workforce fulltime and was ready to continue my studies, but I’d basically run out of time (business degrees must be finished in a 10-year-period) – especially when I was already working full-time and a single parent with two children,” she said.

“I was feeling quite deflated and felt like I had let my time pass.

“But then I spoke to the most amazing person in the student support area at the QUT Business School and she encouraged me to use my work experience and to apply for postgraduate studies even though I didn’t have a degree.”

Lexie said she was now used to being a uni student, but returning to study back in 2017 had definitely been daunting.

“I was nervous because by this stage I was in my mid 30s with two children and felt like I wouldn’t fit in,” she said.

“I was also worried about balancing study, work and family commitments.  I was studying part time and externally.

“It was a struggle, but I was lucky to have the support of my workplace allowing me to have flexible study leave. My family were also great as they were able to assist with babysitting when I needed them to. I also had the support of the Oodgeroo Unit and the liaison librarians to assist with academic and referencing issues that I had along the way.

“As I was an external student, I had to ensure I had good time management skills as I would watch my classes online at night time or I would get up early in the morning and do two to three hours of study before going to work.”

Completing her graduate certificate had a positive effect on her career.

“I was so excited and relived to finally finish,” she said.

“It gave me the confidence to apply for a higher level job, which I was successful in securing.

“I was also really glad to show my two girls (now aged six and nine) that I was able to work and do uni all while being a single parent. They were so supportive and proud of me – studying had a massive impact on them too.”

Lexie said she had always planned to do a Masters as well, to further her career.

“I am looking to continue into management as my discipline to assist me with developing my leadership skills and I hope to progress into a management role in the future,” she said.
 

The QUT Business School is located on the Gardens Point campus next to the Brisbane CBD.


Lexie’s advice for mature age students thinking about postgraduate study (with or without an undergraduate degree):

  • Don’t keep putting it off, we always make excuses to not do something – kids, work, finances. But there is so much support within the university to assist you with your journey.
  • Apply for scholarships – there are so many opportunities and the university recognises that postgraduate study can be a big financial commitment.
  • Talk to your family and tell them your plans and make yourself accountable.
  • Make the commitment to yourself. Lock out time for watching or attending lectures so you don’t fall behind.  Also make yourself known to your lecturers and tutors. This way if you are having trouble they will already know who you are and the commitment that you are putting in and that you are genuinely trying.

 

To find out more about fast-tracking your postgraduate studies at QUT, visit the QUT website.

 

QUT Media contacts:
- Mechelle McMahon, 
media@qut.edu.au
- Rose Trapnell, media@qut.edu.au or 0407 585 901 (after hours)