High school students participate in LINK program class.

LINK Project: Widening participation in English

Encouraging a whole range of new possibilities
By building collaborative partnerships with low-socioeconomic high schools across western Sydney and regional NSW, we’re bringing the humanities to life and demystifying university study in the process.
Group of students interacting

LINK project students acting out a scene from Shakespeare.

Responding to the chronic underrepresentation of students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds in higher education across Australia, our goal is simple: to widen the participation of students from diverse backgrounds at university. Since 2015 the project has been funded by the Nelson Meers Foundation, a private philanthropic organisation that supports achievement in the arts.

I can see myself fitting in here no problem.
Blacktown Boys High School student

What we do

We work with our partner high schools to enhance English teaching and identify pathways to higher education.

High school students across NSW engage with Department of English volunteers in workshops that encourage creativity, critical thinking and a curiosity for tertiary study. The workshops are held on-campus or in-school and include:

  • Staging Shakespeare
  • Creative writing and characterisation
  • Cinematic ‘belonging’, film and TV
  • Novels and New Media
  • Race and ethnicity in popular fantasy fiction
  • Romantic poetry and 19th century novels
  • Postcolonial ‘place’ and Australian literature
  • Postmodernism; feminist theory
  • Graphic novels and video games
Our teaching has been enriched by the experience and the increased self-belief in our students is astounding.
Lisa Carmody, Head English Teacher, Bankstown Girls High School

Our activities

Readerly  our mentors work with Year 11 Extension English students undertaking their first major research project, developing their research skills and refining their presentations.

Writerly  open to Years 9 to 12, students work in small groups to develop their creative writing under the guidance of a LINK mentor. On request, we also offer one-on-one creative writing mentorship to Year 12 students developing their first full-length creative work for their HSC Extension 2 projects.

These programs culminate in showcases, during which students present their finished work to their peers and teachers.

We foster a sense of belonging at university by welcoming students to campus, leading them on a tour and conducting Q&A sessions on university life. Campus visits also include extended learning activities on creative writing, film studies, Shakespeare, and novels and new media.

Held in venues around Western Sydney, LINK West events welcome schools to participate in activities that offer dynamic entry points to key aspects of the Year 9, 10 and 11 English Studies curriculums.

Our team travels to rural NSW to work with students in their own classrooms and champion the possibilities of higher education. We also host regional students on campus each year, where they participate in learning activities, gain access to University resources and familiarise themselves with life at university.

Each year we invite a published author to become the LINK Writer in Residence. During this time, the author designs creative writing resources that we use throughout the project. LINK is enhanced by special, one-off events – in 2017, we held a poetry masterclass featuring Malaysian-Australian rapper, poet and author, Omar Musa.

These campus visits have proven inspirational for students and have certainly helped to broaden their horizons.
Mary Doolan, Deputy Principal, Coonarabran High School

Our school partners

  • Bankstown Girls High School
  • Blacktown Boys High School
  • Chifley College, Mt Druitt
  • Coonabarabran High School
  • Gilgandra High School
  • Mendooran Central School
  • Strathfield South High School
  • Willyama High School