Why it's necessary
The Australian Government has identified areas within NSW as being low SES communities. People within these communities are significantly underrepresented in the Australian higher education system. The federal government have set targets to redress this inequality.
Students growing up within these areas often face a number of barriers in reaching tertiary study. These include a lack of access to educational resources, information and support necessary to progress in the Australian higher education system. This often leads to low levels of academic achievement and low secondary school completion rates.
Nevertheless, students from low SES identified areas who do enrol at university have similar patterns of retention and success as those from other areas.
The Participation and Equity Review commissioned by Universities Australia in 2008 identified multiple ways to address these barriers. These included:
- direct work with underrepresented schools
- activities to support school retention
- programs to raise awareness of higher education
- alternative pathways to tertiary study
- financial support and other incentives, such as scholarships
- first-year transition programs
Considerable evidence shows that people formulate their aspirations early in life, and that family experience of higher education is a key factor influencing attitudes. This is why Compass engages with students, and the people who influence them. This contact begins early in their schooling and continues throughout their school career.