Universities helping students with career pathways

Universities helping students with career pathways

While the Federal and state governments are encouraging secondary school students to pick up a trade or take vocational courses, there is an increasing push by universities to help students who want to consider tertiary education.

The University of Canberra (UC) recently hosted over 500 high school students, who participated in a range of engaging activities geared towards giving them a taste of university life.

The three-day long UC 4 Yourself exposed secondary school students in Years 9-12 to campus tours, special activities and workships from UC’s five faculties – the Faculty of Science and Technology, Faculty of Business, Government and Law, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Health, and the Faculty of Arts and Design.

“With UC 4 Yourself, we want to inspire aspirations, increase access and spark opportunities for these students,” Laurie Poretti, manager of theWidening Participation program, said.

“The students will also learn about alternative pathway options and scholarship opportunities, as well as the many support services that the University has in place for them.”

Looking to support even younger students, the University of Sunshine Coast recently hosted around 400 Year 5 students for its Explore Pathways Expo, a hands-on career immersion event which iss part of the Expore program which hosts various actiities and competitions for years 4-6 students.

Through the Expo, participants were able to experience various occupations as well as educational choices to challenge their assumptions on job gender stereotypes.

USC Manager of Student Access and Diversity Veronica Sanmarco noted that due to their event, almost 80% of the participants “strongly agreed or agreed” that the Expo made them interested in attending University or TAFE

More than 90% of teachers who also attended said that the Expo helped widen the career aspirations of their students.

Going after the “influencers”

As part of its strategy, the University of Tasmania is turning to students’ key influencers.

Funded by the National Centre for Sutdent Equity in Higher Eudcation, new research from the University of Tasmania will look into the best ways to support key influencers in a bid to increase the pathways of students and adults towards tertiary education,  or  even employment.

The project will design and trial working parties composed of employers, the local governnment, parents as well as teachers in a number of NSW communities  as well as in Huon Valley and Break O’Day in Tasmania.

Professor Sue Kilpatrick, the project lead for the research, noted that the government and education sectors can only do so much, as communities also have a role to play in increase an individual’s participation in education or employment.

The community’s role is even greater when it comes to rural, regional and remote parts of Australia.

To succeed, says Professor Kilpatrick, universities need to “influence the influencers”.

“Higher education and career pathway aspirations are typically formed in primary and early secondary years when parents, families and teachers are key influencers,” she said.

“This has to be coupled with an understanding of the attainability of higher education if aspiration is to be converted to participation, for mid to late secondary students and adults.”