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Winter Program prepares students for university life

28 June 2016
Week-long academic intensive program part of the University of Sydney’s Compass initiative

We’re helping more than 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Year 12 students prepare for exams and university life as part of the Bunga Barrabugu Winter Program this week.

New perspective: high school student Dhani Coe (left), pictured with her brother Liam and sister Brittany who are both current Sydney students, says the Winter Program provides a unique insight into university life.

Students are taking part in workshops by expert teachers and exam practice and preparation as part of the annual, week-long academic intensive, which is being held at the Charles Perkins Centre and the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE).

They’ll also meet with representatives from faculties and industry to discuss their preferences and possible pathways, as well as their expectations of the student experience.

Coinciding with NAIDOC Week, students will also engage with the local community during celebrations at the NCIE.

All the students attending also participated in the 2016 Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program held earlier this year.

University’s Head of Widening Participation Mary Teague said one of the amazing things about the Winter and Summer programs was the peer-to-peer connections and friendships that developed.

“They’re ultimately our most powerful tool, assisting students to reach their goals and stay focussed. Friendships formed in that transitional time between school and the unknown future can be for life.

“Recognising that network and seeing it expand speaks of the unmeasurable success of the program, along with the results it’s getting in terms of greater access to Higher Education,” Ms Teague added.

Last year, 27 students attended the Bunga Barrabugu Winter Program. Fifteen went on to list the University of Sydney as a preference in their application for undergraduate study, and eight are now studying here.

“The conversations begin on the first evening when students arrive and friendships grow throughout the week. It’s so rewarding to then see some of these students together on campus once they’re studying with us.”

Dhani Coe from Presbyterian Ladies’ College Sydney said the program provided a unique insight into university life. Her siblings Liam and Brittany, both current students at Sydney, have been working as students leaders as part of the program this week.

High School student Tye Johnston from Foster Great Lakes Senior Campus agreed that the program provided a new perspective on university study.

“Next year I want to study engineering. The Winter Program has given me a few more options, it’s broadened my opportunities,” he said.

Current University of Sydney Bachelor of Arts and Education student Djanala Svagelli attended the Winter Program in 2015. Today she credits it with alleviating her fears around attending university.

“High schools are bombarded with all these unis coming to visit, but this program gives you all the hands on, practical information,” she said.

“Some students don’t have anyone they can talk to for advice about university. For me, the Winter Program took away the pressure.”

Find out more about applying for the 2017 Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program.

Rachel Fergus

Media and PR Adviser
It’s an opportunity to be part of an extensive program of academic support and preparation within a supportive University environment.
Mary Teague, Head, Widening Participation