Clemente Australia is collaborative, community-based university education designed to meet the needs of students who, because of their life circumstances, may otherwise be excluded from education.

Clemente Australia is about people realising possibilities, new options and making life changes — people moving from where they are today to a place where they believe ‘someone like me would never expect to be’. Education can be an end in itself or a way to drive other changes you want to make in your life.

Find out if Clemente is the right fit for you.

To be a Clemente student you need to:

  • be over 18
  • have challenges in your life
  • be eager to learn
  • be able to read and discuss a newspaper article
  • commit to a 12-14 week program.

You don’t need a specific qualification or school certificate and there is no upper age limit. Clemente students are a very diverse group and can include people:

  • aged 18 to over 60 years old
  • from non-English speaking backgrounds
  • who have missed out on education because of poverty, illness, homelessness, imprisonment, or age discrimination
  • who want to increase their social and community connections.

ACU delivers the academic approved course with community partners providing local co-ordination, social support and services. Learning partners support students with encouragement, study and writing skills.

You will study humanities subjects such as history, literature, philosophy and art. These subjects have the same content, readings and assessment tasks as on-campus undergraduate subjects.

Two subjects are offered each year – one per semester. Each subject is taught over 12-14 weeks with a two-hour lecture each week and a further two hours for tutorials. You sign up for one subject at a time. Classes usually have 15 - 20 students with a focus on open discussion and hearing student voices and opinions.

On successful completion of four subjects, you receive a Certificate in Liberal Arts from ACU. If you decide to continue with your studies, the four Clemente units may be credited towards an ACU undergraduate degree.

ACU sponsors and hosts Clemente Australia, working in partnership with community, education, business and government organisations and individual volunteers. ACU-supported Clemente sites include:

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
  • Canberra
New South Wales (NSW)
  • Blacktown, Sydney
  • Campbelltown/Macarthur, Sydney
  • Mt Druitt, Sydney
  • Surry Hills, Sydney
Queensland (QLD)
  • South Brisbane
Victoria (VIC)
  • Ballarat
  • Fitzroy, Melbourne

Student motivations for starting Clemente include:

  • for knowledge
  • to prove to myself I can achieve
  • wanting to learn
  • for personal satisfaction
  • to move on from where I am
  • to undertake recognised academic study
  • to learn additional skills
  • to move into employment
  • to make new friends.

Student university fees, course books and materials, library access and other support services are covered by ACU and community partners. Community volunteers participate as learning partners, helping you with study and writing skills and supporting you in your learning journey. Most sites have internet and computer access for Clemente students and with each lecture session there is the time to talk and engage with others over light refreshments.

What do students say?

Hear how students feel about Clemente and its impact on their lives.

My past is seen as something rich not dirty. I feel I am treated as an equal, there is no patronising paternalism, just respect and humility.
Being part of Clemente has taught me many things. Yes, I’ve studied some amazing units, but my biggest lessons I have learnt are that I am capable of anything that I set my mind to and that I should never underestimate myself.
People see that I have a brain because I have done a university unit. I am back in society. Everything here is provided for us. Access to a computer, learning partners, general help, you can ring someone up, you know it’s all there for us, this place here we can use as a base if we don’t have one … so when the inevitable question comes, oh what is it exactly you do, I can be more than just a carer for my son. I can say also well I’m doing a course up at Mission Australia.
Being a single mother of three, it is difficult to study. I joined the Mt. Druitt Thrives Program because I attempted to study online last year and failed my first essay and oral presentation quite miserably. This course allows me to return to tertiary study with all the support that I need. The time slot, in the middle of the day, is perfect. I also get to meet new people.
All up until that time period of being 38, I’d struggled with jobs, courses and didn’t know why I wasn’t achieving things. When I first came here, I didn’t have a voice, not because people had made me like that but I had lost my voice through the mental illness… And as every week went on, my confidence just grew.

How to apply

Admission to the course includes a conversation process. During the conversation, course information is provided, learning needs discussed as well as your willingness and ability to participate in the classes and activities.

To take the first step contact your local Clemente team

Contact us

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About Clemente Australia

Clemente aims to break the cycle of poverty, inequality and social injustice for people experiencing complex life challenges through access to university education.

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Our mission, identity and values

Everything we do at ACU is led by our mission and values. Discover our commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person, and the common good.

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Impacts and benefits of Clemente

Participation in Clemente comes with a wide range of benefits for all involved. Hear first-hand how Clemente has changed the lives of students and volunteers.

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Contact the Clemente team

If you would like to learn more about Clemente, or find out how to get involved, you can reach out to our friendly Clemente Australia team by email or phone.

Contact Clemente

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