UC 4 Yourself
The program aims to break down barriers to higher education for students in Years 7–10 from financially disadvantaged backgrounds
The Aspire UC Schools outreach program is the University of Canberra’s (UC) flagship partnership program funded under the HEPPP. The program aims to break down barriers to higher education for students in Years 7–10 from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. The majority of the students come from rural or regional areas. The UC 4 Yourself program is a component of the Aspire UC program. UC 4 Yourself provides the opportunity for students to visit UC to experience the campus environment and to see firsthand what it is like to be a UC student for a day through an organised program of activities. The program was initially developed and implemented in 2010 with 10 schools. There are now 30 schools involved and the UC 4 Yourself program has been substantially enhanced in response to student feedback. As a result, the UC 4 Yourself Expo model was introduced in 2013. The Expos include interactive demonstrations, hands on displays and student- and academic-led workshops. The UC 4 Yourself Expo is offered six times throughout the year and engages multiple school groups in each Expo. To date 1,351 students, primarily from Year 9, have participated in 2013, with an additional 300 participants scheduled for the next UC 4 Yourself experience.
The UC 4 Yourself program is designed to:
- raise the aspirations of students from disadvantaged backgrounds for higher education
- help students to identify and overcome barriers to higher education
- introduce students to a university environment, available courses and potential career paths
- smooth the transition between school and university.
The UC 4 Yourself program, including staffing, transportation, catering and activity expenses is fully HEPPP funded.
Pre- and post-test surveys are undertaken to examine students’ intention to go to university and their knowledge and understanding of post-school options. Analysis of the new format UC 4 Yourself program is currently underway. Preliminary results from the surveys indicate that the program enables students to increase their understanding of the range of postschool options available to them, and increases the per centage of students who intend to go to university. Qualitative feedback is overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by comments from students.
“After going through today’s activities UC seems to me that it is an awesome place. All of the friendly faces, and all the support they give, UC is looking like it’ll play a part in my future.” – high school student.
The University of Canberra has recently received HEPPP funding for three projects aimed at breaking down barriers to higher education for Indigenous students. The projects will do this through delivery of a specialist Aspire UC program, through the development of a foundation program delivered in school hubs across the region, through support and professional development for teachers, and through a range of initiatives undertaken in partnership with external organisations. Each program will be fully evaluated through a range of methodologies.
“My thoughts on UC is that it is a fun environment and fantastic place to go to uni. Seeing the uni today has made me want to go to a uni in the future.” – high school student.
This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.