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New program helps students face challenges of the HSC

5 November 2021
Prep for Sydney Uni
For the HSC class of 2021, the final school years have been particularly challenging. A new program is helping students in need overcome academic and mental-health hurdles.

As HSC written exams approach, a new University of Sydney program is helping Year 12 students overcome the difficulties they have faced during the pandemic.

Prep for Sydney Uni is a series of webinars and online activities designed to help students through the academic and mental-health challenges of the HSC, and ease the transition to tertiary education.

It is open to students from low socioeconomic, rural and regional areas, and those facing financial hardship. More than 450 students from schools across NSW have taken part in the inaugural program this year.

The program includes online workshops to help students manage their mental health, and HSC refresher courses to consolidate knowledge and prepare for exams.

Until written exams end on 3 December, the University is offering free on-demand online study help, in partnership with digital tutoring platform, Studiosity.

The program also includes sessions to prepare participants for tertiary education, with advice from current University students and information on everything from scholarships and student support services to accommodation on campus.

Studying through the pandemic has been very hard. I live in an LGA of concern, so through lockdown it was particularly difficult to see friends or even to go out and get a change of scene.
Noor Sanhir, HSC student

“The HSC class of 2021 has faced profound disruption through their final two years at school, from horrendous bushfires to extended lockdowns and online learning during the pandemic,” said Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Mark Scott.

“We’re passionate about helping talented students realise their potential, whatever challenges they face. We’re delighted to offer this new program, which helps students stay focused and calm as they approach their final exams, and prepare for life beyond the HSC.”

The Prep for Sydney Uni program is open to Year 12 students who have applied for university through the Early Offer Year 12 (E12) Scheme. The E12 Scheme caters to students experiencing financial hardship, living in areas of socioeconomic disadvantage, or attending a rural or regional school.

“This program was created for students doing the HSC under tough circumstances,” said Shane Griffin, the University’s Executive Director of Sydney Future Students.

“While it has been particularly helpful for Year 12 students during the pandemic, we hope it will help students for years to come.”

The program includes:

  • Online HSC tutoring: The University of Sydney has partnered with Studiosity, an online, on-demand tutoring platform, to provide free study support for Year 12 students in need. Students can receive one-to-one help via online chat with subject specialists, or submit their work and receive feedback within 24 hours. It is available until 3 December.
  • Healthy HSC: An online workshop giving students practical skills and strategies to manage mental health and wellbeing – a particular concern for the class of 2021. Topics include stress management, lifestyle balance and general health. 
  • HSC Preparation Courses: Offered through the University’s Centre for Continuing Education, these refresher sessions from experienced educators cover subjects including mathematics, physics and English. The full-day courses consolidate school studies, enhance subject knowledge and improve exam technique. 
  • Preparing for Sydney Uni: An online session covering information about applications, preferences, scholarships and finding a pathway to university. 
  • Transitioning to Sydney Uni: This webinar features advice from current Sydney students who are the first in their family to attend university, or have come from regional or remote areas. There are tips on where to live, how to build a social circle and other practical ways to ease the transition to tertiary education.
Photograph of Noor Sanhir

Noor Sanhir from Prairiewood High School participated in the free online tutoring and HSC Preparation Course in mathematics.

For 17-year-old Noor Sanhir from Prairiewood High School, the stress of the HSC has been compounded by the pandemic. She participated in the free online tutoring and HSC Preparation Course in mathematics. They helped boost her knowledge and calm her anxieties.

“Studying through the pandemic has been very hard,” she said. “I live in an LGA of concern, so through lockdown it was particularly difficult to see friends or even to go out and get a change of scene.

“The Prep for Sydney Uni program kept me looking forward. Knowing I had help made me feel like I could handle things better.”

Photograph of Renae Dahbache

Renae Dahbache from Greenpoint Christian College

Renae Dahbache from Greenpoint Christian College, also 17, took refresher courses in mathematics and legal studies, as well as using the online tutoring service.

“Studying during lockdown, it was sometimes difficult knowing every day was going to be exactly the same,” she said. “It was hard to stay consistently motivated. The program was helpful because it brought up things I hadn’t thought of and gave me a new perspective on the coursework.”


Louise Schwartzkoff

Media Adviser (Central)

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