UQ Young Achievers Program
The UQ Young Achievers Program provides a valuable support framework to enable participating students to realise their potential
The UQ Young Achievers Program (UQYAP) supports the tertiary study and career aspirations of motivated secondary school students from low-income families who might not otherwise have access to university. The program is focused on nurturing and developing the educational ambitions of Year 11 and 12 participants through mentoring; on-campus experiences; information on university study options, pathways and application processes; opportunities for personal growth; and financial assistance in the form of bursaries and scholarships. To date, more than 370 Young Achievers have benefited from the program.
The program is operating in State secondary schools in Ipswich, Logan, the Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba and the Darling Downs, Wide Bay and Far North regions of Queensland.
- To raise awareness and interest in tertiary education within educationally disadvantaged communities
- To increase the number of students from low-income families enrolling in and graduating from university, and
- To develop civic-minded student role models willing to assist in raising the tertiary aspirations of others.
The program was established in 2009 with financial support from university donors to assist with scholarships and bursaries. HEPPP funding covers all operational costs, including staffing, mentor training and development, residential camps, publications and program tracking.
Success of the program is measured through:
- the number of participants who successfully complete Years 11 and 12
- active engagement of participants (and their families) in all program events and activities, including mentoring and completion of school/ community volunteer projects
- feedback from surveys, reflective workshops and interviews (with participants, parents/guardians, mentors and school staff)
- the proportion of participants who apply, receive and accept an offer at a university, and
- University of Queensland (UQ) completions in future year.
In 2013, nine of our inaugural cohort of Young Achievers, now in their second year at university, joined the UQYAP mentor team and are giving their time to support Year 11 participants, often from their home schools.
Early metrics relating to the number of Young Achievers transitioning to tertiary study are very encouraging. Ninety five per cent of the first cohort (who completed Year 12 in 2011) submitted a Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre application; 86 per cent of these students received and accepted a tertiary offer (for UQ or elsewhere).
A qualitative study is underway to understand the impact of the program on students, families, schools and communities and assist in its further development. A quantitative study to track the effect the program is having on students’ self-beliefs and intentions to study at university is also in place.
Over the past four years, more than 370 Young Achievers and their families have been welcomed into the program.
Early outcomes and feedback indicate that the UQ Young Achievers Program is helping to raise educational aspirations of students from low-income families. A strong working model and solid student pipeline is in place and Young Achievers are serving as wonderful role models within their schools, families and communities.
The focus of further program development is on embedding the academic and emotional support systems to optimise retention and graduation rates for Young Achievers at UQ.
The University of Queensland is committed to the long-term sustainability of this initiative and the benefits it will bring, not only to participants, but also to their families, schools and communities.
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.