Community forum to build bridge to higher studies.
Educational leaders and Indigenous students from ACU and four other NSW universities have joined forces with the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) to encourage young Indigenous students to consider university as an option, as part of the Bridges to Higher Education program.
Shifting attitudes about higher education study involves working with the whole of the community. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, their families and community leaders all shared in a BBQ at a Community Forum held on December 11 to enhance aspiration and share information about higher education.
Bridges to Higher Education is a consortium of five NSW universities (ACU, Macquarie University, University of Western Sydney, University of Sydney, and University of Technology, Sydney) and 15 other partners working to build the participation of students from under-represented communities in higher education, and providing professional development to teachers across NSW.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are greatly underrepresented in our tertiary institutions”, said forum coordinator Nicola Cull (ACU). “There is a need for greater access to information about how to get there, the costs involved and the benefits of higher education to the individual and the community.”
Families turned up with students at high school and primary school, giving the organisers the chance to share information about:
Pathways to study – alternative entry programs
Indigenous Scholarships – both academic and residential
Academic tutorial schemes
Indigenous cultural and social support
Indigenous school students also enjoyed testing their strength and physiology knowledge with Exercise Science activities run by ACU university students and had fun programming robots with Macquarie University students.
The NCIE forum followed a successful inaugural tour of regional NSW. Delegates from the Bridges to Higher Education partners travelled to Bathurst, Dubbo, Tamworth and Gunnedah in November to meet with the local Indigenous community leaders, families, students, and school staff to talk about higher education.
The meetings were held in the Local Aboriginal Land Council rooms and community centres and were well received by the local communities.
These meetings provided an opportunity for the community to meet with current Indigenous university students and staff, hear their stories and begin building relationships with the universities. As well as, gaining information about pathways that enable higher education and the range of support measures available.
Bridges to Higher Education is a $21.2m initiative, funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), to improve the participation rates of students from disadvantaged communities in higher education. Bridges is a partnership to create new aspiration- and attainment-building programs and build on existing programs targeting school-age children and their parents.
The Bridges to Higher Education project brings together the collective resources and experience of the widening participation, equity and social inclusion programs at each of the partner universities. The partnership extends to include NSW DEC, TAFE NSW, the University Admissions Centre, local government organisations, education offices, indigenous organisations and other community, philanthropic and social enterprise organisations.
For more information about Bridges to Higher Education or ACU’s equity pathways contact Nicola Cull.