Establishing a regional enabling pilot programme through university-community engagement

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education Vol. 35

July, 2012, 373 pages
Published by
N. Brown, S.M. Jones, & A. Adam
0 908557 89 2

National research indicates that levels of educational access, participation and achievement for those living in regional and rural locations in Australia are around half the levels of their metropolitan counterparts (Australian Government, 2008; Vinson, 2007). Regional disadvantage occurs across all educational sectors and is characterised by low retention rates at school, low participation rates of students from low socioeconomic status in diploma level programmes (Wheelahan, 2009) and low university access and participation rates for Indigenous and regional populations.

The UCan REACH enabling programme was established by the University of Canberra in 2011 to raise access and participation rates in regional South East NSW. The programme is an adaptation of an on-campus enabling programme offered by the University of Canberra College. The programme was developed after extensive regional community consultation and was delivered in situ in Merimbula.

This paper provides an overview of the programme, including details of the programme development and delivery, and the results of the programme evaluation.

The results indicate that regional communities place high value on university-community engagement that delivers tertiary level programmes locally. Participants reported increased confidence, raised insight into their academic ability and a significant increase in their academic skills. Broader outcomes in terms of social and community benefits, personal- family benefits and financial benefits were also reported. The lessons learned from the pilot programme will not only inform delivery of future UCan REACH programmes but also provide transferable lessons for other providers.

Keywords: equity, outreach, educational access 

Establishing a regional enabling pilot programme through university-community engagement

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Fleming, Michele; Cram, Barbara; London, Glenys; Kayrooz Carole