ASPIRE is a well-named venture from UNSW with a simple goal – they set out to challenge attitudes to higher education and get kids from socio-economically disadvantaged background to consider going to university. It’s fundamentally a great program.
Their primary aims are to:
- Build awareness of university among students who may think that university is not for them
- Encourage students to think about options for their future
- Help students to achieve their full potential
- Increase the number of university students who are from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds
ASPIRE exists because traditionally students from low socio-economic status backgrounds have not gone to university at the same rate as students from other backgrounds and this figure continues to be inequitable. This is not because of a lack of student ability or just because of the costs involved, but because of attitudes and misconceptions among students, communities and universities.
Many of our students think university is not for them because it’s too hard, they live too far away, they aren’t well-off enough, they won’t fit it or be made to feel welcome. Others know they want to go and are on track academically but they are not sure how to navigate the system or they are unsure if there is support available. We are here to help students achieve their potential and navigate the higher education system.
This is great stuff, and all the more important right now when the media is full of the possibility that the recent Budget’s introduction of unregulated fees will make university even more unattainable for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
It’s sad though that the same budget process is leaving the ASPIRE program with an uncertain future. ASPIRE’s government funding is about to expire and nothing is certain – neither for the program or for the students it supports.
For more information see the ASPIRE website.