Bendigo Tertiary Education Partnership
The ultimate aim is to grow participation in higher education in regional Victoria
The Bendigo Tertiary Education Partnership pilot program, supported by the Victorian Government’s Regional Partnership Facilitation Fund, is a two year program running in 2014–2015. The program will be delivered across nine regional local government areas that make up a significant component of the catchment area for the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University. The three major elements of the program are:
1. Foundation: to provide program sustainability through robust governance and planning underpinned by data and evidence which provides a picture of regional student aspiration, participation, attrition, attainment, and destination landscapes.
2. Scaffolding: to provide an integrated Pathways Hub to support teaching staff, parents and students to broaden aspirations to include tertiary study. Interventions will include school outreach and engagement, capacity building of school teaching staff, career information for parents and industry engagement and participation.
3. Reinvigoration: to redevelop two higher education course offerings to allow regional participation and collaborative delivery strategies between TAFE and the university.
These integrated elements will provide a broad and sustainable model for raising aspirations and participation in higher education for young people in the region.
- La Trobe University
- Bendigo TAFE
- Bendigo Senior Secondary College
- participating schools from the local government areas of Greater Bendigo, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Central Goldfields Buloke, Mount Alexander, Campaspe, Gannawarra and Swan Hill.
The objective is to grow the breadth and depth of higher education programs and higher education pathway offerings in regional Victoria through the development of a sustainable long-term tripartite partnership between La Trobe University, Bendigo TAFE and Bendigo Senior Secondary College.
- The coordinator of the Pathways Hub at Bendigo Senior Secondary College facilitates outreach and engagement activities on TAFE and university campuses guided by student ambassadors, provides industry-based expos showcasing pathways through education and employment opportunities in the Bendigo region, and connects ‘Return to School’ mentors to their home town schools to encourage aspiration for and understanding of tertiary study in Bendigo.
- The Pathways Hub provides a capacity building professional development program for Careers, Managed Independent Pathways and Pathways teachers.
- Transitional activities to support negotiated articulation agreements and seamless pathways from TAFE to university for the agricultural and early childhood industries.
- Reinvigoration of the Bachelor of Science (Agriscience) degree to allow for blended learning and delivery in regional areas.
- Reinvigoration of the Bachelor of Early Learning degree to provide for online learning for regional students currently engaged in the childcare industry.
- Establishing best practice strategies from the pilot to engage regional students, build capacity of regional teachers and reinvigorate other courses to be delivered in regional settings.
Collaboration was improved between the three partners, with an MOU established, agreed terms of reference for governance, a joint communication strategy, progress in developing joint marketing strategies for agriculture and early learning courses, and the development of articulation agreements and joint pathway activities. Pathway options increased for students and prospective students of agriculture and early learning, with improved course delivery to engage more regional students. Industry has been consulted on agricultural science major study areas and to determine practical placement and assessment strategies.
A fully-online Bachelor of Early Learning was introduced for students who have a TAFE diploma and are currently working in the industry, with 77 students currently enrolled. 2014 also saw a blended learning agriscience major subject trialled in Bendigo and Albury Wodonga, and 2015 will see the introduction of science degrees with agriscience majors at both campuses.
The number of students in the target area receiving specialist careers information and education was enhanced through regional secondary schools engagement with the Pathways Hub, and teacher participation in Pathways Hub professional development activities.
The partnership has established a governance group with a willingness to commit to a shared vision for regional Victorian students which includes shared resources, risks and successes. The Governance Committee meets quarterly to provide leadership, data analysis, community consultation and collaborative planning for long-term higher education needs in the region. It also oversees evaluation of the program.
A project manager for the Partners in Participation pilot program has been responsible for establishing the framework under which the partnership operates, and through networking and facilitation has identified, maximised and realised opportunities between partners in working towards their shared vision and goal.
Senior leaders from each of the partners form the Bendigo Tertiary Education Partnership Governance Group, and collectively are responsible for the pilot program. La Trobe University has jurisdiction over the ‘Foundation’ and ‘Reinvigoration’ elements and the ‘Return to School’ mentors outreach component of the scaffolding element. Bendigo Senior Secondary College has jurisdiction over the Pathways Hub and activities for regional high school students and teachers.
An Operations Committee made up of members from each of the institutions meets monthly to plan, implement and evaluate activity in the ‘Scaffolding’ element and to provide information and advice to the Governance Committee.
The coordinator of the Pathways Hub will continue to facilitate outreach and engagement activities on TAFE and university campuses guided by student ambassadors, provide industry-based expos showcasing pathways through education and employment opportunities in the Bendigo region, and connect ‘Return to School’ mentors to their home town schools to encourage aspiration for and understanding of tertiary study in Bendigo. The Pathways Hub will also continue to provide capacity building professional development activities for Careers, Managed Independent Pathways and Pathways teachers.
Joint marketing plans for pathways through learning will be implemented by La Trobe University and Bendigo TAFE. An evaluation report defining sustainable best practice processes and procedures will be developed in 2015, which can be used to inform, improve and continue the Bendigo Tertiary Education Partnership.
This case study is one of a series of 31 presented in our case study publication, Partnerships in Higher Education.