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Indigenous students prepare for final exams on campus

30 June 2017
Practical support for Year 12 students to access higher education

The University of Sydney is hosting 29 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Year 12 students during NAIDOC Week, providing academic support, networking opportunities and workshops on pathways to higher education. 

A photo of Aboriginal students laughing

Students attending the Bunga Burrabugu Winter Program in 2016.

Over the five-day program, students will engage in exam preparation workshops and access Senior HSC exam markers, University tutors, staff and current students from a variety of faculties, as well as support staff, to build confidence and motivation leading up to their final exams.

Students will also learn how to write scholarship applications, apply to the University and address University Admission Centre (UAC) requirements – while enjoying networking opportunities with each other, current University students, University staff and industry representatives.

Designed to support the transition from school to university, the Bunga Burrabugu Winter Program is facilitated by the University’s Widening Participation and Outreach, in collaboration with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Services.

The final-year students all graduated from the 2017 Wingara Mura-Bunga Burrabugu Summer Program, the University’s week-long residency for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students across the country, and have been invited back to campus to prepare for their senior exams and life after school.

A photo of a young Aboriginal woman walking.

Djanala Svagelli, a Bachelor of Arts/Education student at the University of Sydney working as a Student Leader with Year 12 students during the 2017 Bunga Burrabugu Winter Program.

Real impact

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services), Professor Jakelin Troy, said the program demonstrated the positive impact the government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) funding could have on enrolment rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

“The results speak for themselves,” she said.

“Last year 38 students attended our Winter Program. Ultimately 61 percent preferenced the University of Sydney in their undergraduate application and 21 percent are now studying at Sydney. In the three years the Summer and Winter Programs have been running, 108 students have participated in our Winter Program, with 24 percent going on to enrol at the University.

“While we don’t have official figures, we also know many, many more Winter Program graduates successfully enrolled in other institutions. We’re immensely proud of all these students have achieved.”

Increasing access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

Mary Teague, the University’s Head of Widening Participation and Outreach, said the Winter Program was a vital part of the University’s holistic approach to increasing access to university for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

“We engage with school students, teachers and principals from early primary school through to Year 12, in a coordinated effort to build capacity and motivation in students that have typically been underrepresented in higher education."

These final-year students have reached the end of their school journey, and our Winter Program provides the specific, targeted support they need most at this stage of their lives.
Mary Teague, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach
A photo of a young Aboriginal man sitting in a cafe.

Year 12 student Tom Devlin attending the Bunga Burrabugu Winter Program 2017.

Djanala Svagelli attended the 2015 Winter Program and is now working with the Year 12 students as a Student Leader. The Bachelor of Arts/Education student said:

“Taking part in the program made me significantly more comfortable and confident in my own experiences as an Aboriginal high school student.

“Also, when I got to Uni, to have a few familiar faces at the Cadigal pre-university preparation weeks, as well as a couple of units, really made the transition into Uni a lot easier and smoother.”

While attending the 2017 Winter Program, Tom Devlin from Lake Munmorah on NSW’s Central Coast said the week had helped him make contacts at the University, and provided practical advice on how to enrol.

“I’ve really appreciated how welcoming everyone is and how many people there are to support you and help you through uni, and to get into uni. I’ve met lots of people from all over Australia and built heaps of new connections.”

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