Bridges to Higher Education Bridges to Higher Education

Education Program Delivers $54 Million Return to Disadvantaged Areas


19 June 2015

Commonwealth Government program Bridges to Higher Education has delivered a six-fold investment return for some of the state's most disadvantaged communities, a KPMG audit released today has found.

Delivered via a partnership of five major universities (University of Western Sydney, University of Sydney, Macquarie University, Australian Catholic University, and University of Technology Sydney), the $21.2 million New South Wales-based program was designed to dramatically improve the participation rate of students from areas under-represented in higher education.

The independent audit found that every dollar invested over the duration of the two-year initiative (2012 to 2014) generated a $6.50 return to lower socio-economic communities, including those in Greater Western Sydney, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and remote and rural areas. The total return to these areas was found to be 54 million dollars.

Oliver Crane, KPMG spokesperson, says that the program's financial benefits (outlined in a detailed cost benefit analysis based on the Treasury Model) also extended to other community areas.

"When considered in relation to the community at large and the investment of Commonwealth Government funds, our audit shows that for every dollar invested the Bridges program also delivered a three-fold return on investment in terms of the broader community," he says.

"It's clear the program has made a profound difference to the futures of many thousands of young Australians, providing an invaluable pathway to education, achievement, employability and life-long learning. In addition to the cost benefits, we've also forecast that university offers and course completions will benefit 671 students. This is a real success."

Bridges To Higher Education Chair Catherine O'Donnell says the program is now an established blueprint that can be used to boost higher education participation throughout the rest of Australia.

"Increasing access to higher education for groups who traditionally miss out is one of our society's most pressing issues, and this audit shows that the Bridges model is a powerful tool for achieving this objective," says O'Donnell. "The four key elements – academic confidence, motivation, school cultural shift and access are now an established blueprint for engaging every other under-represented community throughout the country in higher education. We now know that this approach works and have developed an Engagement Framework and online toolkit for high education practitioners to activate in their local region or state."

O'Donnell says the success of the Bridges program can be attributed to unprecedented collaboration between schools, teachers, universities, students, parents and community leaders.

"Collaboration of this scale across the New South Wales education sector has enabled an unprecedented holistic approach to achieving outcomes including engaging students more fully in their learning, increased student and parent awareness, improved student academic preparedness and increased confidence and motivation toward higher education." she says.

The KPMG findings and Engagement Framework and website will be officially revealed by a Federal Government official at Rooty Hill High School today at 11am.


Macquarie UniversityWestern Sydney University LogoThe University of SydneyAustralian Catholic University