The I Belong senior years program has a student lifecycle and student cohort focus
RMIT’s I Belong program addresses barriers of the city as alien and inaccessible to young people from LSES schools and communities, and the impact these have upon access and entry to pathways and professions.
The I Belong middle years program works with secondary schools and students to deliver a distinctive and scaled program, focussed on tertiary ‘tasters’ aligned with city and industry exploration and peer engagement.
The I Belong senior years program builds upon the middle years program with deep, vocationally themed ‘tasters’ and tertiary preparation delivered in the city of Melbourne. These are referenced to the industries, employment and education concentrations of the city.
Secondary schools participating in the I Belong program are schools already in partnership with RMIT through the Schools Network Access Program (SNAP), our substantial priority access program across the west, north and southeast of metropolitan Melbourne and East Gippsland.
The I Belong senior years program has a student lifecycle and student cohort focus. The lifecycle focus informs the program focus of:
- tertiary masterclass delivery, unpacking specialised disciplines and industry outcomes aimed at Year 11 and 12 students
- on-campus transition days, study and learning skills enhancement, and
- peer engagement using current tertiary students enrolled at RMIT through the SNAP partnership.
Secondary schools in partnership for the I Belong senior program include:
- secondary schools across the SNAP partnership footprint with the highest concentrations of disadvantage
- secondary schools across the SNAP partnership aligned with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, and
- secondary schools in East Gippsland and part of the SNAP partnership.
I Belong Senior years will build on the participation of 1,500 middle years students to grow informed aspiration, awareness and opportunity for tertiary outcomes leading to pathways and employment across specialised professions and industries.
I Belong will help to achieve national population parity for Indigenous participation and increased participation of students from LSES backgrounds, underpinned by RMIT’s admission policy and targets for Indigenous and LSES growth.
I Belong senior years will grow cultural awareness and understanding to support Indigenous participation through family, school, and community brokerage and cultural awareness delivered through an identified senior advisor Indigenous participation position.
Belong senior years is funded through the HEPPP competitive partnership grant, and supplemented by RMIT’s allocation of all partnership funds to support the I Belong middle and senior years programs.
“[Access through] SNAP isn’t just a safety net. It’s an opportunity to engage with passionate individuals who want to test themselves, and I’m quite grateful for that.” – current RMIT tertiary student who was enrolled through SNAP.
Measurement of outcomes of the I Belong senior years program cover three core areas:
- participation of students, schools and high priority Indigenous and rural students
- scale, depth and breadth of discipline masterclasses, tertiary transition opportunities and skill enhancement modules
- vocational and professional outcomes through tertiary pathways, inclusive access commitments and Indigenous prioritisation through participation, and engagement and access.
“I Belong was awesome, I didn’t know there were jobs doing what I love (photography and design). I know what I want to do, now. “ – Year 11 student.
The HEPPP funding to support the I Belong senior years program is crucial support for Indigenous and rural participation, to grow scale and participation and deepen opportunity. Over 2013–2015, the I Belong senior years program aims to deliver the program to over 3,000 students across the senior secondary years.
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.