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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

SCU program to target disadvantaged students

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A Southern Cross University project to encourage disadvantaged students living in the Clarence Valley to attend university is set to kick off next year after funding was approved by the federal government.

The $821,000 SCU project is one of a range of 17 programs costing $50 million that are designed to increase the representation of disadvantaged students, particularly Indigenous Australians through the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program.

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Stellar, coordinated by Southern Cross University, is an initiative of the Clarence Valley Industry and Education Forum (CVIEF). The Forum is a strategic partnership between education, business and the community, which seeks to have a sustainable community impact by working collaboratively and sharing resources to develop the futures of Clarence Valley youth. The partner universities are Southern Cross University and University of New England (UNE).

Rachel Callahan, head of Southern Cross University’s Equity and Diversity Office, said the funding would ensure the continuation of the Stellar project — one of three key initiatives of the CVIEF.

‘The Stellar initiative is all about raising aspirations and improving participation in higher education through the provision of information, support and encouragement to students, families, carers, school staff and community groups,’ Ms Callahan said.

The program has four key elements: [email protected], [email protected], Stellar Parents and Stellar Teachers.

‘Our aim is to excite students about the possibility of university. In years 5 and 6 we will be building an understanding and awareness about university and introduce them to the career opportunities that are available,’ she said.

‘Through years 7 to 10 we will be undertaking specific activities including visits to university campuses, mentoring programs, work experience and homework support.’

The program aims to take a ‘whole of community’ approach to supporting students reach university, according to Page MP Kevin Hogan, who welcomed the funding.

‘As a former high school teacher, I know that education is the key to better paid and higher skilled jobs,’ Mr Hogan said. ‘A good education can change someone’s life,’ Mr Hogan said.

The 17 projects will target students from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly Indigenous students, by partnering with schools and communities to foster aspiration and prepare students to attend university.

Some of the other projects include working within prisons, extra teacher support, mentoring and intensive tuition in maths and science.

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