Media Release - Labor commits nearly $6 million to boost uni access in NSW

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $5.9 million in an award-winning UNSW Sydney program to help more disadvantaged Australians attend university. 

This election is a choice between Labor’s plan for better investment in education, or bigger tax loopholes for the top end of town under the Liberals. 

We need real change, because more of the same isn’t good enough.  
Labor will expand UNSW’s ASPIRE program, which works with young people from communities with low rates of university participation.  
The program aims to address the most significant barriers to university that students from socio-educationally disadvantaged schools face, including: 

  • Financial vulnerability.
  • Attainment gaps in literacy and numeracy.
  • A lack of professional and academic role models.
  • Distance and constrained opportunities.

ASPIRE engages with students from kindergarten to HSC level by running workshops in schools, hosting a range of activities on campus and organising residential camps for regional students from across the State. 

The program currently reaches around 12,000 students each year from its 55 partner schools across New South Wales.  

Labor’s investment will help expand its reach to 40 more schools and nearly 50,000 more students. 

The proven ASPIRE approach has already seen a 155 per cent increase in offers to university for students from disadvantaged schools in New South Wales since its 2010 launch.  

From 2015 to 2018, university offers to students from ASPIRE schools increased by 77 per cent, compared with 34 per cent in non-ASPIRE schools. 

The ASPIRE model has already been successfully demonstrated in Kingsford Smith at Matraville Sports High School, JJ Cahill Memorial High School and La Perouse Public School.  

Labor Member for Kingsford Smith, Matt Thistlethwaite, said the results at schools like Matraville Sports High reflect the benefits of the UNSW ASPIRE program. 

“Around half of the Year 12 students at Matraville Sports High are now going to tertiary education and this is likely to increase to nearly 60 per cent by next year. 

“One third of the 250 students have an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander background while half of the students are from families in the lowest income quartile. 

“Labor believes a university education is an opportunity you earn, not a privilege you inherit. Getting into university should depend on hard work and ability, not how wealthy your parents are,” Mr Thistlethwaite said. 

Today’s announcement is on top of Labor’s plan to abolish Scott Morrison’s unfair cap on university places, which will give an extra 200,000 Australians the chance to go to university over the next decade.   

End the cuts, end the chaos, vote for change – vote Labor.

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