The Impact of a University Experience Program on Rural and Regional Secondary School Students: Keeping the Flame Burning

Joy Penman, Jyothi Thalluri
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 14  •  2017  •  pp. 035-048
Aim/Purpose: The uptake of university by regional students has been problematic for various reasons. This paper discusses a program, initiated by a South Australian regional university campus, aimed at attracting regional students into higher education.

Background: A qualitative descriptive approach to study was used to determine the value of the program on participating students and school staff. Year 10 students from Roxby Downs, Port Augusta and Port Lincoln high schools were invited to participate in a two-day regionally-focussed school-university engagement program that linked students with the university campus and local employers.

Methodology: A survey was administered to determine the impact of the program. Perceptions about the program by school staff were gathered using a modified One-Minute Harvard questionnaire. While 38 Year 10 students and 5 school staff members participated, 37 students and 3 staff evaluated the program.

Findings: The findings revealed that the majority of the students would like to attend university, but financial and social issues were important barriers. The students learned about the regional university, what it can offer in terms of programs and support, and the employment prospect following university. The school staff benefited by developing a closer relationship with students and becoming better informed about the regional university.

Recommendation for Practitioners: One way by which university uptake may be increased is to provide similar immersion programs featuring engagement with employers, our recommendation to other regional universities. In increasing the levels of education, individuals, communities and the society in general are benefited.
university participation, increasing university aspirations, Year 10 students, regional university experience
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