Bridges to Higher Education Bridges to Higher Education

About Bridges to Higher Education

Bridges to Higher Education aims to engage students through learning opportunities and other activities that support academic outcomes and excite them about the possibilities of higher education as well as to equip students, their families, school staff and community groups with tools and information so school leavers and others can make informed decisions about their future.

Our four objectives are:

  1. Improving academic outcomes
    To provide enriched learning opportunities that support student readiness for higher education. Increasingly these begin in the early years of primary school, supporting schools to achieve literacy and numeracy outcomes. Programs continue through all years of high school and include summer schools, enriched learning activities to support the school syllabus, study skills sessions, HSC preparation, tutoring and homework clubs.
  2. Increasing awareness, confidence and motivation towards higher education
    Activities are delivered on campus, in primary and high schools, in communities and electronically to encourage students to consider higher education and to help them achieve their goals. Partner universities arrange visits to campus and schools, mentoring programs, work experience and careers awareness.
  3. Building teacher and community capacity
    Bridges to Higher Education partner universities engage with school teachers, principals, the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities Community Liaison Officer network, careers advisors, parents, non government organisations and other partners to assist them to increase aspiration to, and potential for higher education.
    This includes providing teachers and other school staff with professional development to support curriculum outcomes and a range of resources about higher education pathways.
    A number of programs have been designed to meet the needs of specific community groups, parents and community leaders.
  4. Increasing capacity to access higher education
    Bridges to Higher Education is improving routes to university for prospective higher education applicants who have left school, including working in partnership with vocational and further education.
    Bridges to Higher Education has developed an evaluation framework, through which the initiative will be evaluated against its outcomes across its four objectives.

With these objectives as the central focus, Bridges to Higher Education aims to provide a more comprehensive and better coordinated engagement strategy to increase the pool of people from under-represented groups who aspire to and successfully participate in higher education.

Preliminary Report

In October 2013, KPMG delivered the first of three studies which together form a comprehensive evaluation of the Bridges to Higher Education program. This Preliminary Report provides a baseline and reports on findings for the period 1 January 2012 to 30 June 2013.

A summary of the Bridges Evaluation Preliminary Report (PDF, 4544.08 KB) can be downloaded here.

Interim Report

KPMG's second evaluation report, the Interim Report, covers the period 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2013 and establishes that the work is having a significant positive effect on both attitudes and behaviours of those groups and communities currently under represented in higher education.

A summary of the Bridges to Higher Education Evaluation Interim Report (PDF, 300.63 KB) can be downloaded here.

Final Report

The Bridges to Higher Education final report conducted by KPMG demonstrates the powerful effect Bridges has had on the aspirations and academic outcomes of students and people living in under-represented communities in Greater Western Sydney and rural and remote areas of NSW.

The KPMG report evaluated 96 Bridges projects over a three year period and is a comprehensive review of participation education programs conducted in Australia and is a good news story for the widening participation network of higher education providers.

The report contains a cost benefit analysis which estimates an expected economic return to LSES communities of $54 million in projected earnings and tax revenues which equates to a sixfold return on the Government's investment to LSES communities and a threefold return to the NSW community at large.

The Bridges to Higher Education Final Report (PDF, 2487.34 KB) is now available for download. Further information is available by contacting the Bridges Central Team.

Student in library

The Challenge

The origins of the collaboration and the Bridges to Higher Education initiative which was formed and the challenges that Bridges has faced are highlighted here.

Students hugging

How Bridges has made a difference

Bridges has substantially expanded its reach, increasing partnership momentum over time, better targeting of resources and the roll out of new projects over time, raising the profile and credibility of its higher education objectives in schools and communities throughout Greater Western Sydney and rural and remote communities in NSW.

The Bridges Effect

The Bridges Effect

Bridges to Higher Education is aimed at dramatically improving the participation rate of students from communities under-represented in higher education in NSW. Established by five leading NSW universities, Bridges was supported by a $21.2 million Commonwealth Government grant and began work in 2012.

Graduation celebration

Building on Bridges

In 2015 a Commonwealth government grant was awarded from the National Priorities Pool funding to extend, enrich and develop a suite of ongoing widening participation programs and support a suite of activities.

Make Your Mark launch event


Bridges to Higher Education is based on partnerships. We bring together the resources and significant experience of more than 30 organisations, as well as more than 300 primary and high schools.

Young student in library


Bridges to Higher Education incorporates proven projects of our partners as well as innovative new projects. We manage this range of activities through our project groups.

Macquarie UniversityWestern Sydney University LogoThe University of SydneyAustralian Catholic University