What is university anyway?

10 September 2009

One hundred and thirty Year 3 and 4 students and staff from Kogarah Public School descended upon the University of Sydney campus yesterday for a day of activities aimed at putting real context to the the function and significance of post-secondary education for the youngest members of the Compass program. Just last week, more than 100 Year 3 and 4 students and staff from Athelstane Public School also participated in the Introduction to University Day. Principals and staff from both schools believe that the Introduction to University Day is an important event in which to introduce students to the Compass program.

The Introduction to University Day started with students attending their first informal 'lecture' in the Great Hall. In addition to some higher education jargon-busting, and discussions about studying at university and TAFE, the presentation included an abridged history of universities. Students were stunned to learn that university students in the middle ages were expected to study from 5am to at least 5pm at night and that for seemingly minor infringements could be jailed or even flogged.

After their first ever lecture, the Year 3 students were tutored in the finer points of paper plane-making from Faculty of Engineering students who also offered school students insights into why they chose to study Engineering and what they plan to do after they finish their study. A guided bus tour of the Camperdown and Darlington campuses, where the architecturally designed chairs on Cadigal Green proved an unexpected highlight, showed the students vast scale of the University.

Dr Craig Barker and staff provided the students with a wonderful tour of the Nicholson and Macleay Museums and after lunch Neil Finlay, Community Programs Manager with Sydney Uni Sports and Fitness and a number of Sydney's elite athletes spoke to students about sport at the University and coached students in a range of fun sporting activities.

Lea Kitchener, Principal of Kogarah Public School, said, "For primary age students it's all about the significance and context and I think (the Introduction to University Day) is a great beginning."

In Term 1 2010, the University of Sydney will host a similar event for all Year 3 students across our 12 Primary Schools which will serve as their official welcome to the Compass Program.

Kogarah Public School students listening intently to their first university lecture
Kogarah Public School students listening intently to their first university lecture

More photos from the day