Southern Cross University – Uni-Bound
Southern Cross University (SCU)’s Uni-Bound program supports the University’s commitment to improving access, participation and success of students from equity groups. Uni-Bound currently works with 17 secondary schools, three central schools and 19 primary schools in the Mid North Coast, Northern Rivers, southern Gold Coast and Tweed regions. Schools in these regions have high concentrations of low socioeconomic status (SES) communities and high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enrolments.
There has been significant growth in the number of students participating in Uni-Bound with the broadening of our engagement to primary schools, enabling greater capacity building and partnership within our regions of focus. Cohort-specific activities and embedded career education provide a connected learning framework with resources developed to support teachers, family and community.
Uni-Bound’s scaffolded tailored programs deliver inspiring educational experiences designed to:
- inspire imagination and curiosity and encourage lifelong learning
- increase knowledge and understanding of higher education and career options
- build confidence and motivation towards higher education
- improve readiness for higher education
- support teachers, families and community to assist students to reach their potential for higher education.
Activities and Progress
Uni-Bound’s outreach scope has expanded to include primary schools in addition to secondary schools, and now offers experiences for students in Years 5 to 9.
- Year 5: Dreaming About Your Future — A special presentation on campus designed to inspire students to dream about their future careers and harness the power of their imaginations. Students get to experience the physical environment of the university and meet current SCU students.
- Year 6: Believe in Your Potential — Delivered in schools, students gain a greater understanding of university career pathways through fun activities reflecting a range of academic disciplines. Identifying personal strengths and exploring teamwork and problem solving in the context of career pathways is a key focus.
- Year 7: Recipe for Success — Delivered in schools as workshops designed to help students identify and develop skills such as resilience, positive peer culture, motivation to learn, goal setting and decision making.
- Year 8: Thinking About Uni — Delivered in schools, these workshops pose more detailed questions about why people choose to study at university. These are discussed and presented through the shared experiences of university students via mixed media, interactive activities and games. Students gain an understanding of the differences between school and university.
- Year 9: Going to Uni — An on-campus visit to one of three university campuses comprising sessions on identifying personal strengths and interests, career pathways, 21st century skills and an exploration of discipline areas providing hands-on, engaging and interactive experiences.
Uni-Bound has more than doubled its capacity to reach students in SCU’s low SES communities. It is valued and acknowledged as a worthwhile, engaging and informative program. Our evaluations show that for more than 80 per cent of participants, Uni-Bound:
- increases confidence in their potential to undertake university study
- promotes conversation and curiosity about future study choices
- enhances knowledge about course options and university pathways.
Uni-Bound continues to use its monitoring and evaluation framework to make ongoing improvements to the program, including identifying which student cohorts benefit most and in what ways they are impacted by the program. Longer-term measures of transition to university are still being explored.
As a fully Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) funded program, there has been uncertainty in the year to year allocation model. However, Uni-Bound has established a sustainable model of delivery and known minimum resource requirements, enabling a flexible and responsive approach to its delivery. Assured funding for the future is vital for maintaining these established school partnerships and a continued commitment to low SES communities in our university footprint.
This case study was one of 35 featured in the NCSEHE’s 2017 publication Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program: Seven Years On.