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Increasing access for regional Indigenous students

31 May 2017
Regional high school students to attend University roadshows

A transformative program of educational outreach will launch across regional and rural NSW during National Reconciliation Week, as the University of Sydney’s Widening Participation and Outreach goes on the road. 

A photo of students in a class

The Thinking Ahead workshop during the fourth Wingara Mura-Bunga Barrabugu (WMBB) Summer Program hosted by the University in January this year. Thinking Ahead workshops will be held in schools in regional NSW as part of the University of Sydney’s Regional Hub Expansion project.

Despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enrolments in higher education increasing steadily over the last 10 years, regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students remain markedly under‐represented in higher education.

In 2015, national enrolments of students from regional areas represented 18.8 percent of total domestic undergraduate enrolments, while remote students represented just 0.9 percent.  These numbers show little to no change since 2008.

The University of Sydney is taking steps to address this gap through targeted activities for high school students in regional NSW designed to support and enable increased access to University.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Years 10 to 12 will be a particular focus, Professor Shane Houston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services), explained.

“We want to create and sustain a university in which the brightest researchers and most promising students can thrive and realise their potential – whatever their social or cultural background,” he said.

“Australia’s most compelling social challenge continues to be improving the education, employment and wellbeing of Aboriginal people. 

This project will open the door for motivated Aboriginal students outside the main cities to access higher education.
Professor Shane Houston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services)

More than 1600 students in 12 schools across three identified geographic hubs – in the NSW Central West, Central Coast and South Coast – will participate in the Regional Hub Expansion project announced in January, with a view to extending into the Mid and Far North Coast in 2018.

The program includes two regional roadshow visits to each hub in 2017, academic development workshops on a range of subjects, student support, parent and community information evenings, and professional development opportunities for teachers and school leaders.

Year 10 students will participate in Preparation for Senior Study, which focuses on the development of general study skills, Mathematics, English and subject selection information to support achieving an ATAR and entry to higher education. In the Central West, this will include in-school workshops facilitated by Secondary Education (English) students from the University’s Sydney School of Education and Social Work.

Year 11 and 12 students will participate in a series of workshops that support scholarship application writing tips and strategies for improved essay writing and exam preparation through the University’s Stage 6 workshops. 

A photo of students and a teacher in a class.

Students taking part in an essay writing workshop during the 2017 WMBB Summer Program.

At the same time, the University’s STEMex project is committed to increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)-related subjects, degrees and professions, and to address the potential impact of increased Mathematics prerequisite requirements at the University of Sydney in 2018.

Widening Participation and Outreach is partnering with the Faculty of Science’s Kickstart program to enable HSC students in regional NSW to explore key ideas in Chemistry, Biology and Physics. In conjunction with the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, they’ll also deliver accredited teacher professional development to enhance student learning through lab based experiments with Advancing Science and Engineering through Laboratory Learning (ASELL).

The regional roadshows will be supported by campus experiences throughout the year, including the Wingara Mura-Bunga Barrabugu Summer and Winter programs.

Online support and digital resources are also available to students and their school communities through A•STAR, YourTutor and the Career Finder app.

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