A group of 50 promising Year 11 students from disadvantaged communities across NSW, including 20 students from Dubbo Senior College, embarked on a school holiday journey to the University of Sydney this week.
As part of the Life@Sydney event, from 30 September to 1 October, the students had the chance to experience life at the University attending lectures and tutorials, sampling different subject areas, and learning more about campus life.
From a chemical analysis of chocolate with the Faculty of Science to digital art-making with iPhones at Sydney College of the Arts, students explored 24 hands-on activities to get a feel for the possibilities ahead at university.
Current university students were also on hand to answer questions about study at Sydney, sharing their stories on the various pathways to university and the many social activities available through clubs and societies.
"For students in regional areas, the decision to study at a metropolitan university is beset by many challenges, not least being their physical distance from the campus," said Annette Cairnduff, Director of Social Inclusion at the University of Sydney.
"This event brings rural-based students one step closer to achieving their dreams, making study at the University of Sydney a tangible option and helping them to discover what life at Sydney is really like, the support services available and the steps they need to take as they work towards further study after the HSC."
In addition to the Dubbo cohort, 30 other students from The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program took part in the Life@Sydney event. Learning for Life helps disadvantaged children and young people in metropolitan Sydney and regional NSW with emotional and financial support, and includes students from Nowra, Gosford, Irrawang and Mount Druitt.
Life@Sydney participants were hosted by the Compass program, which covered all travel and accommodation expenses for the two-day event. Compass encourages students into higher education through a partnership between the University of Sydney, the NSW Department of Education and Communities and selected secondary and primary schools in Sydney and regional NSW. Compass has partnered with high schools in the Dubbo and Forbes regions since 2012.
Life@Sydney is one of a series of projects run by the University of Sydney in the Western Plains region, with Compass recently partnering with Dubbo-based training provider Education and Training Out West to launch the Transition to Uni program in April this year.
The program will see up to 40 Year 12 students from Dubbo work alongside a dedicated teacher-mentor to build their ability to effectively prepare for university, assisting with scholarship applications, entry requirements, Centrelink eligibility, accommodation and alternative entry options at their chosen institution.
It's a formula that appears to be working, with six applications received from current year 12 students at the Dubbo College Senior Campus for the University's E12 alternative entry program – more than in any other year since the E12 scheme began in 2012.
E12 provides students with an early conditional offer of a place at the University of Sydney, and includes a $5000 first-year scholarship, a free iPad and support during the transition from school to university.
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