The University of Wollongong — In2Uni
The University of Wollongong (UOW) offers a number of outreach activities to raise the aspirations, attainment, awareness and access to higher education for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. The In2Uni program is one such activity, which fosters engagement with students from Years 6–12 in UOW’s communities with a high representation of low socioeconomic status (SES) students through on-campus visits, study skills programs, workshops, master classes and a university preparation program.
- NSW Department of Education
- Catholic Education Office (Wollongong and Canberra/Goulburn Diocese).
In2Uni aims to foster and develop collaborative partnerships that:
- connect positively with individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to build their aspirations and capacity towards higher education
- work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop programs that engage individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and provide tangible bridges to access higher education
- increase the number of students from low SES, Indigenous and regional/remote backgrounds accessing higher education to enrich UOW’s local communities.
Activities and Progress
UOW has a long history of undertaking school outreach activities in the local community. In 2010, the HEPPP provided a vehicle to establish an institution-wide approach to school outreach, and the In2Uni Program was launched with five secondary schools and five primary schools in the region.
In2Uni is underpinned by a research-driven learner progression approach and benchmarked against the Design and Evaluation Matrix for Outreach.
Since 2011, it has expanded to include over 80 primary schools and 45 secondary schools in 2017, engaging with over 10,000 students across a 430 km coastline of southern NSW.
The program initially commenced with on-campus visits for Year 6 and Year 10 students, study skills programs for Year 11 students, and curriculum-based projects for Year 7 and Year 8 students. These programs have been refined each year, based on survey data and stakeholder feedback, to now include teacher professional development activities and curriculum for teachers to deliver in the classroom, and workshops that encourage students and parents working together in their learning journey. Pivotal additions to the In2Uni program were the launches of the Year 12 Summer Master Classes and the Year 12 University Preparation Program in 2014. These programs provide a student-centred approach to learning and supporting students with diverse needs, while extending the school curriculum and enhancing student preparedness for higher education.
In2Uni has been benchmarked against other widening participation programs and been the subject of two internal evaluations by an independent research team. These reviews, combined with substantial collaboration and feedback with In2Uni’s partners, have led to continuous improvement and significant growth of the program over the last seven years.
The Year 12 Summer Master Classes and Year 12 University Preparation Program have demonstrated the most significant impact, with an increasing number of students engaged in both programs. The University Preparation Program students provide evidence (upon entry) that they do not have sufficient academic attainment to access higher education. As a result of participating in the program, more students each year increase their academic attainment and access a place at university.
The focus of In2Uni has been to develop multi-layered, sustainable and collaborative partnerships between UOW and the Department of Education and Catholic Education Office in the Illawarra South East Region, at all levels of the organisation, to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the program. These range from MoUs between organisations, to collaborative development of content between teachers and university staff, to positive mentoring relationships established between university and school students.
Underpinned by a continuous improvement planning cycle, In2Uni activities are continuously refined to ensure that the activities are aligned with HEPPP objectives, as well as meeting the evolving needs of students participating in the program.
2017 will see In2Uni expand its reach into South Western Sydney, with a pilot program being launched in 10 schools in the region.
This case study was one of 35 featured in the NCSEHE’s 2017 publication Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program: Seven Years On.