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Adelaide Compass

All Adelaide Compass activities are embedded within the school curriculum, based on effective planning and consultation with the schools involved


Adelaide Compass, funded by the HEPPP, is an early- intervention initiative designed to show students from LSES backgrounds that university is a viable option for their future. It does this by delivering fun learning activities to students in primary school and early high school, in recognition of the value of early intervention. Adelaide Compass is based on the successful Compass – find your way to higher education program run by the University of Sydney since 2009, and has been tailored to meet the specific needs of South Australian schools and communities.

Many students from LSES backgrounds do not have any family members who have attended university, and for them higher education may not be seen as attainable or even a priority. Adelaide Compass provides these students with university experiences enabling them to engage with university students, campuses, personnel, culture and language.

All Adelaide Compass activities are embedded within the school curriculum, based on effective planning and consultation with the schools involved. A range of methods are used to engage students in cultural learning activities at the university, such as university experience days, programs and activities at schools supported by university students and staff, and homework or study groups led by university students. Activities encompass literacy, mathematics, science, culture and agricultural themes.

While the program targets primary-aged children, there are also positive benefits for those students not directly involved in Adelaide Compass activities, through the promotion of a school-wide culture of engagement and promotion of the relevance of and possibilities available through study.

Adelaide Compass aims to develop an understanding of university and to change perceptions about its relevance and accessibility. It focusses on building student attainment and aspiration in order to show students from LSES or disadvantaged backgrounds that university study is possible, practical and achievable for them. It aligns with the University of Adelaide’s new strategic plan, Beacon of Enlightenment, which builds upon the university’s founding principles including the key strategic goal of reaching out to a broader student body, especially students from LSES backgrounds, whilst promoting the importance of the university to the community.

HEPPP Funding
Since its inception in 2011, Adelaide Compass has been fully funded by the HEPPP.

An independent evaluation of Adelaide Compass is currently being undertaken. Anecdotal evidence from program staff and volunteers indicates that there has been a strong increase in awareness about university and further study opportunities. Since the introduction of the program, enrolments to university from the pilot school have increased by 600 per cent.

The Future
The Journey to Higher Education 2013–2015, which is a successful HEPPP competitive bid by the three public universities in South Australia, will see the development of new tailored outreach activities that use each university’s areas of strength. As part of this, Adelaide Compass will be expanded to schools in new geographic areas through the adaptation of metropolitan activities to a regional context, including a specific Indigenous stream.


Illustration of three circles, each labelled as either outreach, access, or support, with the outreach and access circles filled with colour

This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.

Posted 9 December 2013 Posted in General, Indigenous, Low SES