UTS is a key partner in a bold $21 million initiative designed to reach more than 100,000 school students and boost the participation rates in higher education.
UTS is a key partner in a bold $21 million initiative designed to reach more than 100,000 school students and boost the participation rates in higher education from low socio-economic status communities in Greater Western Sydney.
The 'Bridges to Higher Education' project was recently launched by the Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Senator the Hon. Chris Evans at Fairfield High School.
The four year project was initiated by five Sydney-based universities in a unique collaboration to create new aspiration-building programs and build on existing programs targeting school-age children and 175,000 parents.
The project will work with primary and secondary schools and community partners in Greater Western Sydney to engage young people who previously might not have considered higher education as an option. More than 1.8 million people live in the region which has traditionally been under-represented in higher education participation rates.
It brings together the collective resources and experience of the widening participation, equity and social inclusion programs at the University of Western Sydney, The University of Sydney, UTS, Macquarie University, and the Australian Catholic University.
UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Ross Milbourne said UTS operated from a philosophy that where you are born and into whichever circumstances should not determine whether you have a chance to succeed in higher education.
"Through this collaboration of committed universities, we now have a chance to offer new possibilities to thousands of intelligent and aspiring Australians, who might not ordinarily have had the opportunity to grow and expand to be the best they can. It is a win for everyone in our community," Professor Milbourne said.
The program will also draw on the existing partnerships the five universities have with significant education, government and non-government organisations including the NSW Department of Education and Communities, TAFE NSW, Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), AFL NSW/ACT, The Smith Family, and Tutoring Australasia.
Brad Birnie a UTS second year student studying Journalism who spoke at the launch said he believed university had been the biggest contributor to his growth as a person.
"Out of my whole family, on both sides, I am the first person to make it to University, that’s including my 52 cousins on my dad’s side of the family," Brad said. "What made me realise that the opportunity for me to one-day make it to university, was the summer school I participated in while in year 10, at UTS."
The project has been funded with $21.2 million from the Commonwealth Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships program (HEPPP) – highest level of funding for a project in the $150 million national low SES support scheme.
The project aims to improve academic outcomes by improving student’s abilities in reading, writing and numeracy as well as in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Other programs such as visits to university campuses, summer schools, mentoring and work experience are designed to raise awareness and improve aspirations. The project will also work with teachers, careers advisors, community liaison officers and Aboriginal education officers, providing training and professional development.
The initiative will also develop new, innovative and integrated programs that draw on academic strengths of the respective partners, maximising the use of the virtual environment through activities such as virtual visits and connected classrooms, community TV programs, and other web-based and online initiatives.