Australian first: NSW Universities and UAC join forces to reach those missed by current programs

Make Your Mark screenshot

Make Your Mark website

In an Australian first, five universities have joined forces with the NSW & ACT Universities Admissions Centre(opens in a new window) (UAC) to create a tool for potential students who do not come from a background of further education.

The Make Your Mark(opens in a new window) website complements and supports the significant on-the-ground work the universities are undertaking in partnership with schools and communities.

Make Your Mark is an initiative of UAC and Bridges to Higher Education(opens in a new window), a partnership of the University of Western Sydney, The University of Sydney, the University of Technology, Sydney, Macquarie University and the Australian Catholic University. 

In a statement of support, the Vice Chancellors of the five Universities said, "Make Your Mark will be a great asset for students, teachers, parents and community role models alike. Access to higher education positively changes lives, communities and the economy."
There are many questions facing students who may be the first in their family to study further, Make Your Mark is the answer to the first question - "Where do I start?" says Annette Cairnduff, Chair of Bridges to Higher Education.

"We know that for many families, particularly those with no experience of further education, that sending their child off to higher education can be daunting. Make Your Mark will empower them with knowledge and point them in the right direction to find further information and support," she says.

Not just for recent school leavers, Make Your Mark is a portal for potential students of any age who want to find out information about what to do, where to go, and who to speak to.
"Make Your Mark provides all the vital background information about further education and how it can help people achieve their individual life goals and benefit the wider community,” says Andrew Stanton, Managing Director of UAC.  "UAC is really pleased to be part of Make Your Mark, because it's different to our usual role in helping people ready to embark on further study - this is all about reaching out to people who haven't got that far yet and giving them a starting point."
Dr Jane Cavanagh from UWS, Andrew Stanton from UAC, Trish Mullins from UWS
Dr Jane Cavanagh from UWS, Andrew Stanton from UAC, Trish Mullins from UWS
By 2018 the demand for people with higher education qualifications will outstrip supply to the magnitude of 22,000. Students from low socio-economic backgrounds have the poorest educational outcomes. Those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds and people from regional communities experience similar outcomes.

"We know there is no difference in higher education success rates from students from different backgrounds, but we know that often many Australians are unsure of what lies ahead. This website is aimed to provide them and their families with the information they need to make the first step, so they can make their mark," says Ms Cairnduff.

Recent research by KPMG* on activities conducted by Bridges has shown that intervention early in education clearly changes attitudes of both students and parents towards higher education. 

In just two years, the program has already had a profound impact on student outlooks. The Bridges program has delivered over 200,000 contacts with school students from around NSW, with 97 percent of students surveyed having indicated increased confidence levels in their academic abilities. Moreover, 87 percent of students surveyed felt better prepared for university and 81 percent reported improved motivation to complete year 12.

96 percent of surveyed parents and carers reported improved knowledge of higher education options, while 94 percentagreed that their knowledge of higher education benefits had improved.

Ms Cairnduff continued, "We are seeing a shift and we are changing attitudes - we need to reach more people and the Make Your Mark website will enable all people in NSW and the ACT to find the information they need to increase this momentum." 

The website will help all people in NSW and the ACT to look at education options as a way to reach their life goals whether it is to be University or TAFE. It will help prospective students make decisions and provide parents with further understanding of what their child can achieve and would be undertaking.

* Evaluation of Bridges to Higher Education, Preliminary Report, KPMG Government Advisory Services, Nov 2013.

About Bridges to Higher Education

Bridges to Higher Education is a $21.2m initiative, funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), to improve the participation rates of students from disadvantaged communities in higher education. Bridges is a partnership to create new aspiration- and attainment-building programs and build on existing programs targeting school-age children and their parents.

About UWS

UWS is a vibrant, modern, outer-metropolitan university, located in one of the fastest growing regions in Australia – Greater Western Sydney, home to over 2 million people. It has one of the most comprehensive academic programs in the country.

It has campuses in Penrith, Bankstown, Campbelltown, Hawkesbury, Parramatta and Blacktown, and a new campus in Lithgow.

UWS currently has over 41,000 students. 

Over 60 per cent of commencing domestic students are the first in their families to attend university.

75 per cent of domestic students are from Greater Western Sydney.

32 per cent are over 25 years of age.

UWS has the largest number of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds of any university in Australia – over 9000 students in 2013, across its campuses – which equates to 24 per cent of its total domestic student enrolments.


7 April 2014

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