Hike to Higher Education
The program’s success lies with harnessing the different contributions made by all partners
The Hike to Higher Education program has been designed in response to Anglicare Victoria’s four pillars of engagement, comprising of sport, art, music and environment; with the program linked to the environment.
The program relies on current university students from Federation University Australia and Australian Catholic University (ACU) Ballarat campuses. Acting as ambassadors, the university students share their experiences and knowledge with secondary students from the Grampians region.
- Anglicare Victoria
- Federation University Australia’s Regional Schools
- Outreach Program
- Australian Catholic University
- Ararat Lions Club
- Teaching staff and students from secondary schools in the Grampians region.
The overall aim of Hike to Higher Education is to encourage students to discover their passion and build their academic and career journey from that passion. This is achieved by providing secondary students with the opportunity to work closely with current university students in an environmental setting that is supportive and scenic.
The aim is strongly aligned with that of FedUni’s Regional Schools Outreach Program (RSOP) which strives to increase the access to higher education of secondary school students (participating in the RSOP) from LSES, regional and remote backgrounds.
In 2013, Anglicare Victoria, FedUni’s RSOP and ACU partnered to deliver the ‘Port Fairy to Warrnambool’ and Grampians Treks, with participation from secondary school students from Ararat Community College and Marian College (Ararat).
Due to the success of these two treks, in 2014, a further two Hike to Higher Education treks were run in Mt Maria (Tasmania) and the Grampians National Park. The spread of participating schools has increased to include both Horsham College and Stawell Secondary College.
Prior to each trek, a group of university students is trained to be positive mentors for the secondary students participating in the trek experience, ensuring university students make and take the opportunities to have positive and organic conversations with the secondary students. A number of team-building initiatives are also implemented to allow both groups of students to work effectively together.
The Hike to Higher Education program aims to build experiences and have positive interactions with students primarily from the Grampians region. FedUni’s RSOP works with 49 government secondary schools across western Victoria, including the Grampians region. Both programs target students with low aspirations to complete secondary school or access further study in their future, by engaging them in workshops, mentoring with university students and providing them with positive, long-lasting life experiences.
Both qualitative and quantitative data is generated from the completion of each trek experience. Surveys, interviews and verbal feedback are recorded and documented to further improve the program in the future.
In a short amount of time since the intensive Hike to Higher Education program has been provided, of the 88 students from the Grampians region that have participated it is predicted that 78 per cent will successfully complete their secondary education and access higher education.
Student absenteeism has decreased for students participating in the program, with attendance increasing from 84 per cent to 93 per cent within a 12 month period. The outcomes achieved by the Hike to Higher Education program contribute to the success of the RSOP, which has been evaluated as making a significant contribution in educational achievements and aspirations for students from LSES backgrounds from regional and remote areas of western Victoria.
The Hike to Higher Education program operates effectively due to all key partners working collaboratively to achieve the same shared goal of building student aspiration to university upon successful completion of Year 12.
Anglicare Victoria leads the collaboration and effectively communicates with all key partners including universities, organisations, schools and local community groups to ensure all partners are actively working towards their roles to contribute towards the success of the treks.
The program’s success lies with harnessing the different contributions made by all partners including:
- Anglicare Victoria providing funding and staff to develop, coordinate and implement programs in the Grampians area, heavily subsiding the costs for secondary students to attend.
- FedUni’s RSOP and ACU supplying trained university ambassadors and volunteer staff to act as positive role models and to share their experiences of how they overcame some of the perceived and actual barriers that initially held them back from accessing university during their secondary education.
- Teaching staff of the participating secondary schools, with a primary role of selecting and encouraging students who had the capability to complete both secondary and tertiary studies but lacked the self-belief in their ability to do so or felt it was unattainable due to financial hardship.
- Local community groups such as the Ararat Lions Club have consistently volunteered their time to assist and support all participants of the trek to maximise their experience.
Anglicare Victoria, FedUni’s RSOP and ACU aim to provide more experiences for secondary students through providing the Hike to Higher Education program to more secondary school students within the Grampians region in 2015. The goal is to further increase the presence of higher education within the community and to continue to raise students’ aspiration to successfully complete Year 12.
While positive outcomes and achievements for students from the Grampians region have increased in recent years, there is still a need to continue delivering these programs and experiences.
“The opportunity to work and talk to uni students was very helpful to help me decide what I would like to study at uni.” – secondary student.
“It was quite frankly a life-changing and eye-opening trip for me and I feel like I am a better and stronger person and leader from my experiences.” – university student
This case study is one of a series of 31 presented in our case study publication, Partnerships in Higher Education.