Mumbai, 20 May 2019: A premier outreach program at UNSW Sydney that gives school students from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to attend university will receive $5.9m in funding over four years under a Labour government in Australia.
The ASPIRE Program, which began as a pilot program in 2007, introduces students from low socio-economic backgrounds to university life from kindergarten to high school through multiple school workshops and visits to campus. The program currently engages with about 12,000 students each year through 54 partner schools in rural, regional and metropolitan areas of New South Wales. The ASPIRE program has already seen a 155 per cent increase in offers to university for students from disadvantaged schools since its 2010 launch. From 2015 to 2018, university offers to students from ASPIRE schools increased by 77 per cent, compared with only 34 per cent in non-ASPIRE schools.
Commenting on the funding announcement, Matt Thistlethwaite, MP for Kingsford Smith said, “The ASPIRE program gets great results. It is breaking down some of the barriers that children from disadvantaged communities face in attaining a university education. Those barriers include financial vulnerability and attainment gaps associated with literacy and numeracy. This funding is part of a commitment to ensure we are making tertiary education more accessible regardless of where you live and how wealthy your parents are.”
Professor Eileen Baldry, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity Diversity and Inclusion at UNSW said, “The funding will not only expand the number of students who have an opportunity to come to UNSW but widen access and open pathways to other post-school education. This provides even greater impetus to raise scholarships for the increasing numbers of students coming through the ASPIRE program.”
The program operates by running workshops in schools, mentoring and school holiday programs, hosting a range of activities on campus and organising residential camps for regional students from across the state. The expanded program will also provide a new STEM program focussed on the disadvantaged communities in which those schools are situated.
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