New initiative rewards community minded students with early university entry
12 September 2008: With year twelve students across the state recovering from QCS exams last week, and applications to the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) closing on 30 September, the pressure is on for future career choices to be made.
Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Early Achievers program offers successful applicants a guaranteed place in any of its undergraduate courses prior to the release of OP scores.
Successful students need to demonstrate a commitment to their community through contribution to school, church, sporting or cultural organisations, in addition to achieving solid results throughout years 11 and 12.
ACU student Michael Wale, currently in his first year of an education degree at the Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo), is a prime example of someone who would benefit from the Early Achievers program.
Michael gave up time during his senior secondary studies to volunteer for a number of causes including the Woody Point Special School, Walk Against Want and Habitat for Humanity, and has continued his community work by helping to organise Homeless Awareness Week and a Make Poverty History group at ACU.
“I think it’s a really good initiative, to not just a focus on academic results which brings so much pressure. It’s not just the worth of your academic abilities that should count,” said Michael.
“It’s a great indication that there are young adults out there who are going against the norm of a me-first culture.
“I get a bit tired of hearing how generation Y doesn’t give anything back, so it’s great to see young adults who are really engaged with their communities and have values that are highly rated by ACU. It’s not so much a reward, more so an acknowledgement of the service of young people.”
“This opens up more opportunities for young people who are giving back to the community. I really like that ACU is supporting the values which, as a Catholic university, it wants to uphold.”
ACU’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven believes the scheme would benefit employers and society as well as the students and the University.
"Employers have been crying out for this approach for a long time," he said.
"In the 25 or so years I've been involved with university education, employers have been wanting graduates with people skills.
"For example, what's the point of producing a nurse who's great at maths but can't relate to patients?"
Professor Craven also hopes to see the program encourage young Australians who are donating their time to community causes to continue their work.
"This generation has many great virtues but, for many, connectedness to community is not always strong.
"The Early Achievers Program is one way of seeking out those in Generation Y who have a strong community conscience."
Professor Craven said he hoped teachers would encourage students involved in community work to apply.
"If teachers notice a student doing a stack of work, say, at a refugee support centre - and the student's marks are solid - the idea would be to encourage them to make an application to ACU," he said.
The program, the first of its kind in Australia, is also open to non-recent school leavers, taking into consideration formal and non-formal education and relevant work experience.
Prospective students are invited to visit www.acu.edu.au/earlyentry to find out further information and obtain an application form, which is due by 6 October.
ACU’s Brisbane Campus offers courses in offers courses in business, arts, education, information systems, midwifery, music, nursing, paramedicine, psychology, social work, social science and theology.
Australian Catholic University (ACU) – established as Australia’s only Catholic, national, publicly funded university – is open to all. The University empowers its students and staff with a strong sense of social responsibility and concern for the moral and ethical dimensions of their study and their professional and personal lives.