For those on the east coast, Peel WA is a rural and mining area whose major city is Mandurah, it also suffers from a pretty low transfer rate from high school to university which a new program from the University of WA is looking to address.
Alcoa Foundation has pledged US$600,000 to help UWA deliver the Aspire UWA program to more than 7000 students at a dozen Peel high schools between 2019–2021.
It is the second three-year support partnership involving Alcoa Foundation, bringing the bauxite miner and alumina producer’s contribution to Aspire UWA since 2016 to US$1.2 million.
UWA Professor David Sadler, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) said the aim is to engage students who will not normally consider university as an option, so they can see the benefits of education after high school and make more informed decisions about their future.
“School students outside of the metropolitan area have up to half the transfer rate into university,” Sadler said.
“We are working with students to let them know that 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 3000 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 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 and it made the thought of University exciting.
“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.”