Every year high-achieving HSC students miss out on going to university because they don't have the resources. The E12 program connects with these students in high school and helps them transition to university.
It’s a difficult truth. Some students with excellent Higher School Certificate results will still miss out on the chance of a university education. The reason is simple – their families don’t have the resources to support them as they study.
That was the case for Michael. An outstanding student at Dubbo College in central NSW, with excellent HSC results, Michael always hoped his hard work would take him to university.
“I never really thought of anything else to be honest,” he says.
I was a little bit of an outsider in my community, actually wanting to go to university.
Yet a number of things were working against him. His parents weren’t in a position to fund his expensive move to Sydney, especially since they were also looking after Michael’s school-age brother. But there were other, more subtle obstacles.
His parents were proud of his achievements, but as the first person in his family to contemplate going to university, Michael had no guidance and no-one who understood what it would involve. He also lived in a community where a university education wasn’t an expectation. None of his friends were planning on further study.
“I was a little bit of an outsider in my community, actually wanting to go to university,” he says.
As Michael tried to work out what his future might be, he became aware of the University of Sydney E12 program. E12 is an education fund that identifies high school students with potential, and guides them towards a university career. It also provides practical support.
For Michael, that meant a $5000 payment, a laptop, a student union access card and the chance to apply for an accommodation scholarship. He also received an early offer (in fact, the E in E12 stands for early-offer, the 12 for year 12). The early offer gave him more time to organise his move and work through the university enrolment processes.
Michael is now studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science and has discovered a love of astrophysics, which he plans to pursue at the end of his studies.
“I wouldn’t have made it into my degree without E12,” Michael says in the University Physics Building where he spends a lot of his time. “I don’t know where I would have ended up otherwise.”
Another key benefit of the E12 program, is that it gives students a reduced ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) score so they can qualify more easily for university. This compensates for the fact that going to a lower socio-economic, regional or remote school can negatively affect even the best student’s ATAR score by up to 15 points.
Madalyn was convinced she’d struggle to make the 98.5 ATAR of the subject she’d always dreamed of studying, Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications. As she worked towards her HSC at her school in Taree on NSW’s Mid North Coast, what gave her the confidence to give it her all was the E12 ATAR score benefit.
“I’d always looked at my ideal uni course as something that wasn’t really attainable,” she says. “Then all of a sudden it was attainable, which was just so exciting.”
As it turned out, Madalyn only fell .5 of a mark short of the full score and she is now three years into her studies and loving every minute of it.
We know that E12 students like Michael and Madalyn have a clarity of purpose and enthusiasm that often helps them outperform the students who arrive along the usual pathways. They also bring diversity of backgrounds and new ways of looking at the world that can benefit the other students who meet them.
More than that, every high school student of talent and dedication holds a precious commodity – potential. Through its Widening Participation and Outreach education program, the University dedicates itself to giving as many of these students as possible, the chance to show what they’re capable of.
For people who want to donate to charity, E12 is more than an education fund. It is designed to benefit the whole community by giving disadvantaged students the chance to fulfil their potential and use their talents at a much higher level.