ASPIRE Community Hub
Lead University: University of New South Wales
Lead Researcher: Ann Jardine
Research Team: Ann Jardine,Jennifer Eaton and Rosie Westlands
Year Funded: 2014
Funding Received: $343,000
This project sought to form new partnerships with local schools as part of the UNSW ASPIRE program, supporting low socioeconomic status (SES) students to access higher education. Two community hubs were established as the focal points for a range of academic support and enrichment activities, acting as an anchor institution between multiple education stakeholders and incorporating the resources that were currently available.
- The project had three objectives:
- Examine the potential of a university-led community-based model for widening university participation in an Australian context
- Examine the effectiveness of the provision of academic support and enrichment of students from low SES neighbourhoods using this model
- Examine a model that builds on the concept of value added academic and personal development experiences.
- The project sought to form new partnerships with local schools as part of the ASPIRE program, supporting students to access the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
- Two community hubs were established as the focal points for a range of activities that supported the goals of the ASPIRE program. These activities included:
- vacation care workshops
- subject specific support
- homework support
- information sessions on the university application process
- engagement with parent nights
- facilitated visits by parents and students to the University
- information nights for parents
- academic enrichment activity at Centennial Parklands for primary schools.
- The project successfully met its three objectives:
- The project demonstrated the potential for deeper community engagement through a range of activities, reflected by positive feedback from the community, demonstrating the ability to increase awareness of university as a career path. Programs have been positively accepted by community stakeholders as effectively filling gaps in current higher education initiatives across the two community hubs.
- The community hub was shown to be an effective model, acting as an anchor institution between multiple education stakeholders and accessing what is currently available. Greater knowledge of what exists within the community leads to bespoke academic support programs which assist schools in demonstrating that academic requirements are within reach of the target student base and also giving context to the curriculum and demonstrating a pathway from school to degree to career.
- Homework clubs were already in place within the schools and community centres and, as a result, there was no need for duplication. However, a significant ongoing need was identified through stakeholder engagement to build on academic engagement in both after-school and in-school programs, shifting focus to building academic skills such as problem solving, public presentation, confidence and time management.
- Other positive findings from the project included:
- A large number of students and families became familiar with the project officers, facilitating informal conversations.
- Going beyond the scope of traditional access support activities enabled greater flexibility and creativeness in the approaches that were taken to support students’ aspirations.
- A challenge across the hubs was the time and commitment for relationship building with stakeholders. There were also challenges stemming from existing barriers in communication and collaboration between some of the schools.
Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.