U@Uni Summer School
Building robots, starting a business and investigating a crime are a few of the things high school students from South Western Sydney have done over their summer holidays at the University of Technology, Sydney.
From the 13th – 24th of January, 220 year 11 students from partner U@Uni schools in South Western Sydney were welcomed onto the UTS campus for two-weeks to participate in the U@Uni Summer School. This was the program’s largest cohort to date and included 41 refugee students and 14 indigenous students from all around New South Wales.
The U@Uni Summer School Program is part of the UTS Widening Participation Strategy (WPS). The program aims to boost engagement in school and motivation for tertiary education. Now in its sixth year, the program has grown into an opportunity for students to create professional films using the university’s cutting-edge equipment, push their creative limits by designing lamps and fashion items, or even take care of high-tech robotic ‘patients’ in a simulated hospital setting.
Once students have completed the 2-week summer school they are invited back onto campus to attend workshops over year 11 and 12 to build study skills, improve academic writing and inform post school choices.
Jacqueline Asamoah, Chester Hill High School student and refugee from Ghana, believes that participating in the film Summer School, which was her first time stepping into a university after living in Australia for 3-years, has given her understanding of what it would be like to study at university:
“This has been my first real experience at a university, and it’s taught me so much. Everyone’s been so kind and it has made me feel like this is where I want to be.”
Isaac Ingram, Indigenous student from Alstonsville, believes the Summer School program is important to provide regional students with an understanding of university life:
“From where I live, they have no idea what university is like, they can’t tell university to university, and to have resources like this is extremely relevant and important.”
Lurnea High School student, Dalal Al-Rady, believes the program has provided her with an understanding of university life:
“I never dreamt about going to UTS because I thought it was for ‘smarties’ but now I feel it’s a place for me and I can see myself working in design.”
A survey of the 2013 participants found that 96% of the students believed the program made them feel like they would fit into university, and 91% stated that the program encouraged them to aspire for a degree.
To acknowledge and celebrate the work and progress of the students during the U@Uni Summer School Program students, family and friends were invited to a graduation ceremony on the 24th of January. On the night 800 parents, students, friends, teachers, and UTS staff attended to see participants showcase their work and receive certificates of achievement.
The team at UTS hope to see participants in this year’s program in tertiary education in the future.