Models of Achievement: Greater Western Sydney's role in tertiary education

7 June 2013

A former child soldier who is now a lawyer, a factory worker who cracked a previously unsolvable equation, a Bulldogs player who completed his master's in commerce.

These are some of the stories being told in a new TV documentary series, Models of Achievement, which showcases Australians from Greater Western Sydney who have changed their lives through higher education and are making some remarkable contributions to the country's future.

The series is a Bridges to Higher Education initiative aimed at addressing the impending shortage of people with higher education in the Australian workforce.

Bridges to Higher Education is a partnership of five NSW universities, including the University of Sydney, and 15 other education partners working to develop and deliver projects to improve academic outcomes and higher education participation rates, particularly in Greater Western Sydney.

Annette Cairnduff, the University's Director of Social Inclusion said, "The program shows the transformative impact tertiary study can have on an individual's life. Some of the stories are amazing, all are inspiring."

Among the five students from the University of Sydney featured in Models of Achievement are William Chan, whose Bachelor of Design in Architecture has led him to work in the slums of Diepsloot in South Africa, on designs for Barangaroo and the Kellyville train station, and a building project at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Also featured is Jayne Weller, whose veterinary science degree has seen her work with exotic animals in Australia and overseas, including in South Africa on wildlife rehabilitation.

"These are impressive examples of where tertiary studies can take you. This is not only about social inclusion in education. Based on the projected population growth, a 12.2 percent increase in university students across the Sydney region would be required to reach the government's university participation target of 40 percent by 2021."

"This will not be achieved if we cannot inspire more Australians from Great Western Sydney to participate in higher education," said Ms Cairnduff.

GWS is home to over 1.6 million people and contributes $85 billion a year to the nation's GDP - if population growth continues in this area as predicted, Greater Western Sydney has the potential to provide a large proportion of Australia's future jobs growth.

"Models of Achievement is aimed at young people and adults and sits alongside the Enquiring Minds series which was launched in March and is aimed at primary school students. Both programs will be used as part of the University's widening participation programs with schools and communities," said Ms Cairnduff.

The 10 part documentary series will premiere on Television Sydney (TVS), digital 44, at 7.30pm on Tuesday 11 June. The series will explore the success and aspirations of 20 people who, despite hardships, have gone to university and thrived.

Media contact:

Verity Leatherdale: (02) 9351 4312, 0403 067 342 or