LEAP-UP — University Preparedness: Developing a Tertiary Enabling Program for Low SES Students from Refugee Backgrounds
Lead University: Macquarie University
Lead Researcher: Sonal Singh
Research Team: Sonal Singh
Year Funded: 2015
Funding Received: $126,993
Low SES students from refugee backgrounds were assisted in accessing and succeeding in higher education by reviewing Australian and international best practice and initiatives; assessing the needs of past and present students of the LEAP-Macquarie Mentoring Program; and developing an enabling program. A National Community of Practice was established, comprising researchers, equity practitioners and partner organisations active in supporting low SES students from refugee backgrounds.
- The project had four objectives:
- improve support to low SES students from refugee backgrounds to access and succeed in higher education by reviewing international best practice and initiatives in Australian universities
- conduct a detailed needs assessment with past and current students of the LEAP-Macquarie Mentoring Program
- develop an evidence-based tertiary enabling program specific to the needs of this cohort
- form a national community of practice comprising researchers, equity practitioners and partner organisations active in supporting low SES students from refugee backgrounds.
- These objectives were met through:
- a systematic literature review conducted in February 2016 and presented to a reference group for discussion
- in-depth interviews with:
- twenty former mentees from the LEAP-Macquarie Mentoring Program
- fifteen current mentees in the Program
- one university student from a refugee background
- three academic and professional staff at Macquarie University, to determine the institutional structures required to develop an effective enabling program
- two student focus group discussions with current mentees at two high schools in New South Wales
- a stakeholder analysis with teachers and school principles to assess their evaluation of needs for this cohort.
- LEAP-UP was then designed to meet the unique needs of students from refugee and humanitarian backgrounds. The program offers students a coordinated blend of academic and social support to empower them with the capacity to confidently navigate the university environment.
- Two phases of the LEAP-UP program:
- Phase 1 is designed to create a level of preparedness that allows students to begin studies with confidence. Through partnerships with community schools in the Sydney metropolitan region, the program consists of two days of experiential and information sessions for Year 12 high school students from refugee and humanitarian backgrounds who intend to pursue higher education.
- Phase 2 offers three days of intensive pre-university preparation for all students of refugee and humanitarian backgrounds who have accepted an offer to study at Macquarie University. Phase 2 is delivered prior to the University’s Orientation Week to prepare students to be familiar and confident to participate in University orientation activities. Students are introduced to the Transition Support Coordinator who provides continued engagement and support to students for as long as is sought and required.
- In 2016, the Refugee Education Special Interest Group was created with the support of the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia; the Refugee Council of Australia; the University of Newcastle; RMIT University; Macquarie University; Swinburne University of Technology; and Griffith University. The Group is a national community of practice that comprises researchers, equity practitioners and partner organisations active in supporting students from refugee backgrounds.
- Researchers found:
- a 34 per cent increase in understanding of the benefits associated with pursuing higher education studies at university
- eighty-three per cent of the students agreed that the program met their expectations
- One hundred per cent of the students intended to recommend the program to student peers.
- Face-to-face transition support for students from refugee backgrounds is critical to their success at university.
Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.