Students and Macquarie mentors enjoying a Campus Experience Day earlier this year.
Students and Macquarie mentors enjoying a Campus Experience Day earlier this year.

Refugee mentoring for persevering students recognised

The LEAP-Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) program has gained national recognition after being named a finalist in the prestigious Australian Financial Review Awards in acknowledgement of its support of students from refugee backgrounds to access and succeed in Australian higher education.

“Witnessing their [mentees] perseverance through their own personal struggle to fight for their education is really humbling and has opened my eyes to the value of education – which is ironic seeing as this is what we’re here for,” explained a LEAP student mentor.

The program was piloted in 2011 after the Widening Participation Unit recognised a gap in the transition support offered to students studying in Australia on a humanitarian visa. Since then, the program has doubled in size, and benefited 987 high school refugee students to date through participation in the program.

Ruth Tregale, Director of Widening Participation, recognises the dual effect of the program, commenting it not only has positive outcomes for the mentees, but also for our student mentors who report a greater sense of belonging to the University, and increased motivation and confidence in their own studies.

Equity, diversity and inclusion are a priority for Macquarie, and was highlighted when Professor John Simons, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic); Professor Sherman Young, Pro Vice-Chancellor Learning and Teaching; Ruth Tregale, Director Widening Participation; and Sonal Singh, Widening Participation Evaluation Advisor, represented the University at the AFR awards gala dinner.

“I am particularly proud of this program and also of our University’s more general commitment to the support of refugees,” says Professor John Simons, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

So far there have been 32 high school students from the early rounds of the LEAP program that have moved on to higher education, with some even giving their time back to the program. Regardless of their own background, mentors often learn just as much from their mentees, while gaining real world experience.

Learn more about LEAP – Macquarie Mentoring and other LEAP programs.