About the Centre

The Pathways and Academic Learning Support Centre at the University of Newcastle, Australia has a proud history of delivering flexible and supportive pathways for motivated and talented students - not just to gain entry, but to thrive in their field of study.

Equity of access to higher education has always been a fundamental part of the University of Newcastle’s ‘DNA’. Our origins can be traced to a small pilot program for 80 students, ‘Open Foundation,’ run by the Department of Community Programs in 1974. Today we are home to one of the oldest and largest continuously operating enabling foundation programs in Australia.

Our Language Centre programs have been operating since 1989 and have grown to run over two campuses. In addition to this we also collaborate to administer and deliver transnational partnerships (particularly in China). Each year we train approximately 800+ students at our Newcastle campus and 250+ students at our Sydney campus.

Located within the Academic Division of the University, our governing board and staff work closely with faculty colleagues to deliver more than 20% of the commencing undergraduate cohort (domestic and international) and a significant amount of postgraduate (international) for the institution. We are proud of the achievements of our students, many of whom go on to pursue further postgraduate and research higher degree qualifications.

We believe in the power of sector-wide collaboration and initiated the inaugural national conference of enabling educators (2004) and are heavily involved in the governance of national bodies driving the ELICOS sector, in particular English Australia. Our staff played a key role in establishing a national association of enabling educators and work tirelessly to build a community that informs excellence.

We are proud of these Key Facts:*

  • Since 1974 approximately 64,000 people have enrolled in our programs
  • 61% of students were first in family to enter university
  • 10.9% of students had a disability
  • 36.8% of students identified as being from Low Socio-Economic Status areas
  • 7.9% of students identified as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background
  • 4.4% of students listed English as their second language

*This information is correct as of June 2020

Enabling Pathway Programs

Our centre is committed to student-focused learning, with flexible and innovative delivery methods to ensure our students can find an option that is best suited to their educational goals, experiences and external environment.

Our Enabling Pathway Programs are a major pillar in the University of Newcastle’s commitment to equity and excellence through widening participation, access, retention and success in Higher Education, particularly for students from low SES and first in family backgrounds who often suffer from social inequities and challenges.

We offer three Enabling Pathway Programs – Open Foundation, Newstep and Yapug - and are committed to teaching excellence, making our courses some of the most highly rated by students in the University.  They provide students with a means to access and succeed in a degree of their choice.


In addition to our full enabling program, we deliver NUPrep Bridging and Refresher Courses for both undergraduate and enabling students designed to improve academic skills and subject knowledge prior to the commencement of semester. In 2021, we will be introducing a new NUPrep Plus University Preparation Program (UPP), which combines a customised list of courses with added academic and peer mentoring for commencing undergraduate students.

English Language Centre

We also host the University of Newcastle English Language Centre, which has been offering English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) since 1989, and has established a reputation for excellence in English language education. We teach ELICOS for academic and general purposes at varying levels of proficiency at our Newcastle and Sydney campuses.


The Centre has a proud history as a global research leader in the fields of access, equity and enabling education, and since 2013 the Centre has placed a considered focus on building research capacity, successfully doubling output during this time with academic staff who have become involved in, and led, successful research grant applications and important national research projects. If you would like to find out more about our Research please visit our Research homepage.

In research and in teaching and learning, the Pathways and Academic Learning Support Centre strives for excellence, champions equity and serves our communities to the best of our ability. We cordially extend an invitation to individuals and institutions both within Australia and abroad to connect and collaborate with the Centre. Please visit our people page for a list of Key Contacts for the Centre.