LEAP - UP University Preparedness

LEAP - UP University Preparedness

LEAP - UP (University Preparedness)

LEAP UP Cover Image

Our Program

Produced by the Learning Innovation Hub, Macquarie University

Macquarie University’s Widening Participation Unit was awarded a Commonwealth Government research grant under the National Priorities Pool (NPP) to design a University Preparedness pilot program, supportive of students from refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds beginning higher education.

LEAP – UP was designed to meet the unique needs of students from refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds, as identified through the research process. The LEAP - UP program offers students from refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds a coordinated blend of academic and social support to empower them with capacity to confidently navigate the University environment.

This innovative program will engage students as they start their higher education journey by encouraging them to feel engaged and connected with the University community. The LEAP - UP program aims to propel students to achieve fulfilling study outcomes and experiences.

With You from the Start

The LEAP - UP Program

The LEAP – UP (University Preparedness) program is a five-day preparedness program, delivered in two distinct phases.

LEAP - UP Phase 1 is offered to final year high school students attending community schools in the wider Sydney Metropolitan region, who partner with Macquarie University to deliver the LEAP Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) program.

Phase 1 offers students two days of practical preparatory information and experience on what university will be like, including university academic expectations, alternate entry pathways and student support services.

LEAP - UP Phase 2 is a three-day intensive preparedness program offered to all students of refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds offered placements to study at Macquarie University.

Phase 2 offers students a comprehensively blended program of academic and social support to build student confidence.

Beyond the five day LEAP – UP program, students will remain engaged with the Transition Support Coordinator who will provide continuous engagement with students to ensure they remain actively supported for as long as required.

LEAP - UP Program Overview



Building on the success of LEAP - Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) Program, LEAP - UP will partner with community schools in the Sydney Metropolitan region to deliver Phase 1 of the program.

LEAP - UP Phase 1 will offer two days of experiential and information sessions to final year (Year 12) High School students from refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds, who intend to pursue higher education studies.

Phase 1 will be delivered in the first half of the Year 12 academic year. Students participating in LEAP – UP will not be required to have previously participated in the LEAP – Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) program.

Importantly, the support offered to students participating in LEAP - UP Phase 1 aims to create a level of preparedness that allows students to begin their studies with confidence, irrespective of where they choose to pursue their higher education studies.

Preparing for a positive transition to higher education

Phase 1 of LEAP - UP will support students by equipping them with practical information on:

  • university pathways
  • what to expect at university (academic expectations)
  • student support services (scholarship and financial opportunities, student wellbeing and student peer networks)
  • academic guidance (as introduced by academic representatives)
  • study and time management tips (also valuable for preparing students for HSC examinations).

LEAP - UP Phase 1 will also invite participating students to experience an on-campus University Day to:

  • explore the campus
  • help foster a sense of familiarity and belonging
  • engage with faculty representatives
  • participate in an academic lecture experience
  • network with LEAP - UP University Student Leaders.

LMentoring Boys

LEAP - UP PHASE 1 Structure

Day 1 - Student University Day

Day 2 - In-School Information Day



LEAP - UP Phase 2 will offer three days of intensive pre-university preparation for all students of refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds who have accepted an offer to study at Macquarie University.

Phase 2 will be delivered prior to the University’s Orientation Week, to prepare students to be familiar and confident to participate in University Orientation activities offered to all students commencing the year or session.

Phase 2 students will be introduced to the Transition Support Coordinator, who will provide continued engagement and support to students, for as long as this is sought and required.

Building confidence for engaged learning

Phase 2 of LEAP - UP will support students by:

  • creating a safe, welcoming environment where students can engage and share their narratives and perspectives
  • nurturing a sense of belonging to the University community
  • encouraging students to form peer networks
  • including parents and partners as important support groups for students
  • introducing students to on-campus services and student societies
  • exploring leadership opportunities available to students during the study journey
  • offering workshops targeted at boosting student academic learning skills
  • engaging in interactive lecture and tutorial experiences
  • participating in academic digital resource use and research capacities
  • building confidence to explore the university campus and culture.

Phase 2 will also welcome parents and partners to participate in the first day of the three-day program. Recognition of family members (or significant others) play an important role in supporting students during their study journey.

Inviting parents and partners also allows for a two way flow of understanding and communication to be bridged, regarding the student experience.

Produced by the Learning Innovation Hub, Macquarie University 

LEAP - UP Phase 2 Structure

Day 1 - Welcome to University

Day 2 - Introduction to Academic Expectations

Day 3 - The Student Experience

LEAP - UP Phase 2, 2017

Student Leaders

LEAP - UP Student Leaders

Student Leaders will help deliver the LEAP - UP program to students and encourage participants to foster networks, and develop a sense of connection with the University community.

Student Leaders will partner with LEAP - UP students in various activities designed to build confidence.

Student Leaders will guide and support LEAP - UP students to explore and participate in opportunities on-campus, as well as help students make the most of their University experience.

Student Leaders will participate in the program by:

  • partnering with students in 'Campus Confidence' activities to identify student services, landmarks, cultural learning and places of interest around the University
  • engaging with students to establish connections and peer networks
  • participating in LEAP - UP Phase 1 panel discussions
  • assisting LEAP - UP program coordinators with event delivery
  • providing students with a review session following each program day of LEAP - UP Phase 2
  • providing feedback and recommendations for program development and improvement.

Creating connections - fostering a sense of belonging to the University community

Participation in LEAP - UP offers Student Leaders the opportunity to :

  • contribute to the delivery and improvement of the program
  • support cross - cultural engagement
  • build confidence in newly commencing students from refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds
  • develop student peer and professional networks
  • help build and exercise interpersonal, communication and leadership skills that are highly sought in professional work environments.

If you are interested in participating in LEAP - UP as a Student Leader keep an eye out for recruitment notices sent by the Widening Participation team.

The LEAP - UP team will be looking for students who have previously participated as mentors, particularly in the LEAP - Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) Program.


The LEAP - UP program is founded on research undertaken to understand the needs of students from refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds seeking higher education studies.

Produced by the Learning Innovation Hub, Macquarie University

Research Methods

To understand the needs to these students, the following research was conducted:

  • Review of existing literature and higher education programs offered to students from refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds, in both the international and Australian context, to identify best-practice initiatives, and areas where further support can be developed.
  • In-depth interviews and focus group discussions with LEAP - Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) university student mentors and high school mentees.
  • Workshop program and follow-up meetings with teachers and principals working with Macquarie University community partner schools in LEAP - Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) program.
  • Consultation with Macquarie University academics.

Key Findings

The research identified students from refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds needed support to:

  • understand how to access student academic and social support services at university
  • build confidence to be able to approach university staff for assistance
  • build knowledge to navigate university electronic systems for academic and social support
  • build confidence and skills in their capacity to understand and use academic language - in both written and oral contexts
  • build social networks to foster a sense of connection, belonging and participation in the university's community
  • identify a support person who will provide on-going support and referral to other services as needed (Transition Support Coordinator)
  • information on pathways to university and higher education
  • information on financial assistance.


Macquarie University’s LEAP (Learning, Education, Aspiration and Participation) UP (University Preparedness) program is delivered by the Widening Participation Unit. The program's research and design were funded by the Commonwealth Government’s National Priorities Pool (NPP).

The LEAP - UP Reference Group, formed in association with the NPP Research Grant, comprised of students and educational practitioners with exceptional experience working with students from refugee and humanitarian visa backgrounds. The Widening Participation Unit would like to thank the Reference Group for their guidance and counsel in shaping the LEAP - UP program, with particular thanks to the contributions of:

  • Jane Wallace, Refugee Student Support Officer, NSW Department of Education and Training    
  • Rachel Hennessy, Refugee Support Leader Holroy and Nirimba Networks, Macquarie Parl Directorate
  • Eric Brace, Executive Educational Advisor, The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation

The LEAP - UP project team, along with the Widening Participation Unit would also like to acknowledge the synergies and input of the following Macquarie University Units, Teams and Individuals, who helped contribute to the LEAP - UP program:

  • Nyakur Anyuon, Student, Macquarie University
  • Career and Employment Services
  • Coursework Scholarships and Prizes Unit
  • Global Leadership Program (GLP)
  • Learning Skills Unit
  • Learning Innovation Hub
  • Museum of Ancient Cultures
  • Numeracy Centre
  • Professional and Community Engagement (PACE)
  • Student Connect
  • Wellbeing
  • 2SER Macquarie

Contact Us

For further information about LEAP - UP (University Preparedness) or to find out about Macquarie University's Widening Participation Unit and programs offered under the Learning, Education, Aspiration and Participation (LEAP) banner, please follow the link below:


Widening Participation Unit

Macquarie University NSW 2109 Australia

Phone: +61 2 9850 1933
Email: wpu@mq.edu.au

Content owner: Widening Participation Unit Last updated: 07 Nov 2019 1:45pm

Back to the top of this page