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Girls’ Choices Summer School and LIVE IT!

Summer Schools build upon students’ potential to succeed in years 10, 11 and 12


The AIM High Program at the University of Newcastle builds on a successful institutional history of supporting students from a range of backgrounds to achieve a university education. Two established components of AIM High are the separate five-day residential university experiences for Year 9 girls and boys held each December.

The Girls’ Choices Summer School and LIVE IT! (for boys) are designed for those with the ability to do well in higher education but who are socially or financially disadvantaged, have a disability, are from a non-English speaking background, live in a regional or remote area, are Indigenous or have not been exposed to a family or community tradition of going to university.

The Girls’ Choices Summer School began in 2007 with a focus on maths and science. HEPPP funding from 2010 has enabled continuity of service and a continual refinement of our selection processes to ensure maximum impact for the 100 girls attending each year. HEPPP has also provided the opportunity to develop LIVE IT! This summer school for boys began in 2010 and has seen over 100 boys annually build upon their potential to succeed in years 10, 11 and 12, with a focus on careers that require maths and science.

The experience of living on campus in a safe and supported environment, meeting university student mentors and academics, and engaging with new and exciting tasks is a powerful formative process for many young participants. Participants have reported that:

“I was able to actually be in the uni classrooms and experience the overall feeling of what it is like to be at uni.”

“The summer school offered a unique experience and the lecturers and staff treated us like young adults making important decisions instead of like kids.”

“I learned about uni lifestyles and expectations. These are things we don’t usually find out about.”

The objectives of the program are to:

  • increase knowledge of higher education career and study options
  • improve year 12 completion rates and the uptake of ATAR pathways
  • boost confidence to, and aspiration for, study at a university level.

HEPPP Funding
The Girls’ Choices Summer School and LIVE IT! are one element of the broader AIM High Program and have been funded through the HEPPP since 2010.

Program participants complete a pre- and post- survey about their attitudes to university, and their confidence to succeed at school and university. Work is underway to analyse survey data since the program began in 2007.

Since 2007 there have been over 1,000 girls and close to 400 boys participate in the programs.

The Girls’ Choices Summer School reached a milestone in 2012 with two of the 2008 participants returning as staff, both of whom are studying science-based degrees at the University of Newcastle.

The Future
The AIM High team are working closely with University of Newcastle staff to evaluate and enhance the impact of our outreach programs in disadvantaged communities across the Central Coast, Hunter and Lower Mid North Coast regions. A recommitment to equity as part of the organisation’s strategic plan, NeW Directions , ensures ongoing opportunities to engage in research and practice relating to the entry, retention and success of students from diverse backgrounds in higher education.

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

Posted 30 April 2014 Posted in Disability, General, Indigenous, Low SES, Regional, rural and remote