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University of Sydney Masters project to attract students from Sydney's South West

13 Apr 2010

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Students enrolled in the Master of Management program in the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Sydney are working on a 'real-life' project which aims to encourage students from South West Sydney to attend university in greater numbers.

Less than 20 per 1000 students who attend school in South Western Sydney go on to university, compared with the national average of almost 50 per 1000*.

The project, named the Future Direction Network, is the brain child of Corey Payne (BCom '07), an alumnus of the University of Sydney and current NRL player for the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs. It aims to provide financial support (via scholarships), mentoring and career pathway planning and execution (cadetships/internships) for students from South West Sydney and is in line with the University's activities to support social inclusion.

The Future Direction Network is made up of a group of young professionals who grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, attended university and have gone on to develop successful careers. All of them are passionate about providing greater opportunities to the next generation of young people from the region they grew up in.

Payne contacted the Director of the Master of Management program, Associate Professor Nick Wailes to enlist the help of the current cohort of eager of students.

"I have been involved in delivering high school talks to students from South West Sydney for a number of years now in regards to the importance of going onto University level studies, said Payne.

"There are numerous barriers that prevent young people from attending University from the region, such as financial disadvantage, low expectation as no other family members have acquired formal education and also the belief that University is not available to them or quite simply beyond their reach."

"I wanted to do something a bit more proactive, and conceived the idea of setting up a program that would help to not only see more kids enrol at University but also challenge attitudes.

"I floated the idea with a group of close friends, all of whom have grown up in South West Sydney and have gone on to attain University degrees about creating a program to help lift university attendance rates of students from the region". "Financial assistance is a critical component in helping kids from South West Sydney to attend University, however, the provision of support networks is essential to seeing them graduate. So, it is imperative that we (FDN) provide a strong mentoring program to help support students through their studies.

"When Nick informed me that he was interested in having the Master of Management students engage the idea as part of their studies, I was very excited. Who better to work on my project than the best and brightest students at the University".

Nick Wailes said: "When Corey came to me with this opportunity I jumped at it. One of the key aims of the Master of Management is to equip students with the ability to develop solutions to real world problems."

"This project provides students with a fantastic opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge to a concrete set of challenges. It requires them to understand the target market, look for potential sources of funding and identify sustainable governance and organisational arrangements. The skills that students acquire working on this project will be directly applicable in their professional careers."

"Just as importantly, this project and others that our students have worked on are one of the ways that the University can make a positive contribution to the Australian community."

Jessie Kelly, a current Master of Management student, who has previously been involved in a mentoring program for Indigenous students, is looking forward to working on this project.

"I am really excited to be able to work on such a worthwhile initiative as part of my studies, said Jessie.

"My experience is that the people in this course work really hard to produce quality work and I know that as a group we will apply these principles to this project. The most exciting thing for me about this opportunity is that our work will have a real impact on the future direction of this program and I'd also like to think that I am making a real contribution to the changing the face of this university."

Further information about the Master of Management Program can be found at: sydney.edu.au/business/mmgt

* Figures obtained from the SUBMISSION TO THE REVIEW OF AUSTRALIAN HIGHER EDUCATION by the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils Ltd (Aug 2008)