University of Newcastle – Live, Learn, Grow
The University of Newcastle (UON)’s innovative program Live, Learn, Grow seeks to overcome the known barriers preventing students from a care experience—such as foster or residential care—engaging with higher education. The program is the first of its kind to provide care leavers with a range of tailored support services including subsidised on-campus accommodation, supported employment and academic/social support.
The program was developed by UON’s Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE) in consultation with stakeholders across the Out of Home Care (OOHC) sector:
- Allambi Care
- Connecting Carers NSW
- NSW Department of Family and Community Services
- Family Action Centre
- Next Step
- Premier Youthworks
- Settlement Services International
- Wesley Mission.
Over 40,000 children and young people are in OOHC across Australia, and the limited data available reveals young people exiting the care system are significantly less likely to commence and complete tertiary education than other school leavers. Live, Learn, Grow encourages young people in OOHC to transition to higher education from secondary school and assists care leavers to succeed once they are on campus. The program addresses the key factors driving care leavers’ lack of engagement in higher education, to give this group of young people the best chance at reaching their potential.
Activities and Progress
The program was the first of its kind to be offered in Australia and internationally. In addition to the launch of tailored on campus support in 2016, UON now provides regular on-campus experiences for Year 10, 11 and 12 students in OOHC so they can experience university life.
On-campus development days are also held for educators and case workers, to provide the most up-to-date theories and practical applications for working with young people in care — this is an attempt to address the research and data gap that exists for this cohort.
Throughout the pilot, a number of key revelations were made. Firstly, the dedicated support role that was created to assist students was proven invaluable. Every 2016 participant indicated that they would have left university within the first four weeks without the assistance of their supporter. Secondly, systemic issues that emerged as potential barriers for participants, such as difficult online enrolment processes, were assessed and changed as a result of the program. Finally, the collaborative community process has contributed to improved practices within the OOHC sector, driven by caseworkers and organisations involved with Live, Learn, Grow.
Nine students participated in the program pilot in 2016, with seven successfully completing a full year of study. In 2017 the program welcomed another nine participants.
The program’s flexible structure allowed for several intakes throughout the year if necessary. To date, the program has also directly connected with almost 300 young people (both in and out of secondary school) plus 365 case workers and 137 carers.
The program team are working to inform a research agenda that can effect broader systemic changes across policy and other universities. The program model has the potential to be adapted for other groups in the community who may also have lower transition rates into higher education. Live, Learn, Grow was established under a 2015 HEPPP National Priorities Pool grant and is now fully supported by the CEEHE and the UON with the intention of continuing the program annually. Key learnings from these early stages will help shape a possible expansion of the program’s delivery processes into the future.
This case study was one of 35 featured in the NCSEHE’s 2017 publication Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program: Seven Years On.