University push for Peel students

More than half-a-million dollars has been put toward encouraging Peel region students to pursue tertiary education after high school.

Alcoa Foundation pledged $600,000 to help the University of Western Australia (UWA) deliver the Aspire program to more than 7000 students, at a dozen Peel high schools between 2019 to 2021.

UWA professor David Sadler said the aim was to engage students who would not normally consider university as an option.

“School students outside of the metropolitan area have up to half the transfer rate into university,” he said.

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“We are working with students to let them know higher education is very achievable for them and that there is support available to help them reach their goals.

“In the three years the program has been running in the Peel region, demand has been higher than expected with more than 3,000 students engaged so far this year alone.

“Survey results have shown students who participated were more aware of the benefits of a high education and more motivated to work harder at school and attend university.”

Along with visits to schools and excursions to the university campus, current UWA students would act as mentors to high school students taking part in the program, providing a role models and insight into university life.

UWA student mentor Brayden Watson, 19, said he took part in the Aspire UWA program while studying at Pinjarra Senior High School.

“I really feel that early engagement with students when they are at school is important,” he said.

“In regional areas, universities are further away so there isn’t as much opportunity to get a taste of what it is like, and the thought of leaving family and friends can be daunting.

“This kind of program helps school students understand early the vast amount of opportunities available to them at university before they are at a point when they need to make critical decisions.”