Australian Catholic University (ACU) will join four Sydney-based universities in a $21.2 million initiative aimed at boosting the number of students from low socio-economic backgrounds in higher education.
The four-year project will create new aspiration-building programs to reach more than 100,000 school-age children from Greater Western Sydney. More than 1.8 million people live in the region, which has traditionally been underrepresented in higher education participation rates.
Bridges to Higher Education is a unique collaboration between ACU, the University of Western Sydney, the University of Sydney, University of Technology, Sydney, and Macquarie University.
ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven said the University was proud to be involved in the initiative, which is very much in line with ACU’s Mission.
“Everyone with the ability and drive to succeed should have the opportunity to study at university,” he said. “The Bridges to Higher Education scheme will significantly broaden the University’s ACUgate program, which aims to create lasting and trusting relationships with students in Years 5 to 12.”
The funding comes from a $150 million Commonwealth initiative aimed at getting universities working collaboratively to address the decade-long challenge of increasing the numbers and proportion of students from low socio-economic backgrounds in higher education.
Bridges to Higher Education will draw on the five universities’ existing partnerships with significant education, government and non-government organisations, including the NSW Department of Education and Communities, TAFE NSW, Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), AFL NSW/ACT, The Smith Family, and Tutoring Australasia.
It will also develop new, innovative and integrated programs that draw on academic strengths of the respective partners, maximising the use of the virtual environment through activities such as virtual visits and connected classrooms, community TV programs, and other web-based and online initiatives.