What is Widening Participation and Outreach?

Enabling access to higher education for traditionally underrepresented students

University education has the potential to open opportunities and transform lives. But only if you can access it in the first place. Our mission is to change the trajectory for young people from backgrounds typically underrepresented in higher education. This includes:

  • students from rural and regional areas
  • students with a disadvantaged or low socio-economic status, and
  • students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds

We do this through a multifaceted approach aimed at increasing access and participation for underrepresented students, such as:

  • hosting students on campus at the University of Sydney
  • working in schools in rural and regional New South Wales and lower socio-economic areas
  • running workshops and seminars
  • hosting education roadshows in regional areas, and
  • partnering with libraries, festivals, community and educational organisations.

Our achievements

We are committed to innovative, strategic initiatives that extend the depth and impact of our program. This allows us to be responsive to changes in educational contexts and new opportunities to work with young people, their schools and communities.

Below, we’ve set out some of the practical ways we’ve recently enabled students to access higher education and succeed in their studies.

Reinvigorating the Wingara-Mura pre-tertiary outreach program

We have developed two new strategic initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. This included our regional hub expansion project to four regions, and STEMex enrichment program. We also continue to expand our reach to EAS schools in Western Sydney through establishing geographical hubs in Mount Druitt/Blacktown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Bankstown and Campbelltown and partnerships with LGA libraries in these areas.

Partnering with Western Sydney University

We conducted research into how universities identify students from low socio-economic backgrounds so they can be better supported as part of a National Priority Pool (NPP) grant from the Commonwealth Government under HEPPP. This research will aid universities in understanding their students' needs better, and therefore inform programs that address these needs more accurately.

Analysing new ways to report on the medium and longer-term impacts of the program and engaged the Centre for Social Impact

We developed a Theory of Change and a new evaluation framework that included the collection and analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data from external sources such as school NAPLAN results, median ATAR shifts, HSC subject selection choices and numbers of students engaged in ATAR pathways.

Seeking new ways of documenting the impact of our program and capturing the parts that happen incidentally, or are difficult to survey

This led to a longitudinal documentary titled “Our Time”, to trace the life decisions and educational journey of nine young Aboriginal and Torres Islander Students who have been part of the Wingara Mura Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program over a period of three-to-four years.

Our recent programs

Our new programs include:

  • Digital Narrative
  • Prep for NAPLAN
  • Smash Essay Writing
  • Smash Research Skills
  • HSC Exam Prep
  • Year 12 Orientation Week Experience
  • Open Day Residential Program
  • Critical Thinking Workshop for Year 11-12
  • Sydney Writers' Festival partnership including Russ the Story Bus and Year 12 Festival visit
  • Story Factory partnership established leading to Year 11-12 Discover Creative Writing workshop, Digital Literacy teacher PL, Photofaction program and Courtroom slam activities
  • Pilot Principal Professional Learning Program: Leading Excellence
  • Supported teachers from south west and western Sydney to attend the STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy

We recently built on and further developed programs including:

  • Expansion of Study Centres into Liverpool City Library and Information Evenings into Blacktown Library

    Regional Expansion into new schools and hubs including Central West, South Coast and Central Coast

We also sponsored several large community focused events to expand our reach and awareness:

  • Garma Youth Forum Sponsorship
  • Sponsorship of Gillawarna Festival for primary schools in Western Sydney
  • Supported 2017 Mungo Youth Project

To find out more, download the University of Sydney Access and Participation Plan.