The undiscovered country

Forty-four students and their teachers from Balranald, Bombala, Boorowa, Coonamble, Merriwa, Murrumburrah, Camden Haven, Narrabri, Ungarie and West Wyalong participated in a three-day university experience at Macquarie University and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) last week.

The annual Rural Students University Experience gives teachers and students from rural and regional NSW the opportunity to discover the excitement and benefits of pursuing higher education.

girls playing with dry ice“As a student from rural New South Wales, I understand more than many the value of education and the possibilities it opens up for a young person,” said Vice-Chancellor Professor S Bruce Dowton.

“My own education has given me the opportunity to travel and work all over the world, meet interesting people and have experiences I might never have had if I had chosen not to study. I am very proud to support the Rural Students University Experience Program” he said.

The majority of these young people have never visited a university campus before, and many are not even sure if it is a viable option for them in the future. Coming from rural environments, choice can seem limited. Students may be the first in their family to attend a university, and there may be financial concerns and worries about what life would be like in a large city.

“The decision to study at university is a big step for any student, but when that decision also involves possibly relocating away from home, the prospect can become daunting,” says Ruth Tregale, Manager Widening Participation at Macquarie University.

“Many students from rural and remote backgrounds have the desire to pursue higher education, but may be concerned that the broad range of options offered at city campuses are not readily accessible for them“ she said.

As part of our LEAP (Learning, Education, Aspiration, Participation) program, Macquarie has worked in partnership with the Country Education Foundation (CEF) and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) over the last four years to develop a program that addresses these specific concerns and demystifies the concept of university.

Macquarie provides a fun day of interactive workshops and informative sessions on courses and careers attainable through higher education, including information on pathways to university, accommodation and scholarship options, and support available to students on campus. Students get a taste of Robotics, Chemistry, Media, Music and Dance, and have the opportunity meet university students from rural backgrounds who are currently living on campus.

Jane McKenzie-Hollows, CEF’s Administration and Projects Officer said she was delighted that this innovative program continues to be so well supported by Macquarie and UTS. “The results over the last few years have been obvious with students returning home with a greater confidence and self-belief. They are seeing that this is attainable for them, and that whatever their choice, it is achievable in a way they didn’t think possible before” she said.

Find out more about Make Your Mark: new portal to higher education.