The Sudanese Pathways Project, also called Community Futures Australia, is supported by ACU, the Parramatta and Sydney Catholic Education Offices (CEOs), the Independent Education Union and the Catholic Primary Principals Association.
"For refugee students, balancing life, work and family is a very significant challenge."
ACU designed special units to help Sudanese students learn more about Australian society, and ease their transition to tertiary study after members of the Sudanese community, interested in pursuing higher education, met with CEO and ACU staff to discuss their goals and assess their current qualifications and English language skills.
CEO Sydney university-school liaison officer Mark Rix, and ACU School of Education (NSW) lecturer at the Strathfield Campus Mrs Maya Cranitch have managed the project with the support of the Head of the School of Education (NSW), Dr Marea Nicholson.
"It's still really challenging for them," Mrs Cranitch said. "The students have had a lot of difficulty managing study, mostly because of their background as refugees. Many are recent arrivals with a history of starvation, torture and trauma. "Although all have significant English language skills, the teaching and learning methods they encounter are quite new. In addition, many students face financial hardship, due to their financial commitments to family members both here and back home. Many find getting part-time work difficult due to lack of experience in Australia.
"For refugee students, balancing life, work and family is a very significant challenge. Many students have succeeded, but some are still struggling. The ones who are still with us are very committed, very positive and very determined.
"In any access and equity program, an institution has to be flexible in order to respond to the different challenges posed by disadvantaged students. Together with our students, the staff at ACU are learning how to turn that disadvantage around."