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Our Students: accessing & succeeding

UOW has a proud history of working closely with its communities to drive increased participation and attainment among underrepresented groups in higher education. Our strategic aim as an institution is to increase the proportion of domestic undergraduate students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to 21% by 2020, through providing targeted outreach and pathways programs to the community, and seamless transition activities and support to UOW students.

The University of Wollongong is a regional based institution with a very diverse cohort of students.

The University has a proud history of working closely with its communities to drive increased participation and attainment among under-represented groups in higher education. Our Outreach programs work with students from Year 1, all the way through to Year 12, from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. These students have higher aspirations but face many barriers, which means taking their step into higher education harder the students from their cohort at school.

They can be the first in their family to attend University, moving out of home from rural or remote areas, be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent or face significant social and financial disadvantages. Our aim is to ensure that individuals, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to access higher education, through building their confidence, their ability to navigate their protocol options and help deliver a seamless transition into University.

I went to Warrawong High School which is a low socio-economic school. So I've experienced firsthand what it's like to face some of those barriers that you get at a low socioeconomic school. These are the sorts of barriers that make you think you're never going to make it to Uni at all, but it's these kids that realize that we have to work that little bit harder to be able to get to where we want to go and that's a sort of mindset and skillset that really helps you to succeed at Uni.

There's an enormous amount of research that shows that there are people with significant capability who are not being able to access and participate in higher education and the University of Wollongong is absolutely committed to widening participation and to opening access and participation to those groups of people. A strong commitment of the University is to increase our equity students to twenty one percent of the student population, now that's significantly above the national average which is at sixteen percent. So critical to our success are the partnerships that we have with the community and with the schools, and the way in which we then develop appropriate entry pathways for students, so that they can be successful in higher education.

The University of Wollongong also has transition programs that really enable these students to reach their full potential and to be successful in their higher education studies. There's no question that these students are academically capable of succeeding at University.

On average 87% of the Year 12 students who complete our Outreach programs receive an early admission offer to University of Wollongong each year. This may be why we've seen a 47 percent increase in students going onto University from our region since the Outreach program started. Students who continue on to University of Wollongong are generally retained at a higher rate than other students, with many excelling in their university studies. We have had countless students go on to dean scholars degrees taking internships across the globe and starting careers in binnovative and research driven fields.

I always knew that I wanted to go to university but I never knew enough about it. I didn't have any family that I could go to and speak about what it was like or what would be required of me. I was always a really good student at school I picked up content really easily, I didn't require much effort to do assignments, I got everything done when I needed but I never really understood how that was going to relate to University. Everyone always spoke to me about how University was like really big and bad and scary and so I was quite nervous about what that would be into for the future because I still wanted to go to university. I was lucky enough to get off for the position in the Summer Master Classes and that was everything I probably needed to understand University.

I'm torn in two minds about what I wanted to do after University, I don't know whether I want to be an academic and study more at university or maybe do some work the Productivity Commission or the Reserve Bank or something along those lines. If you want something and you had the desire to go and get something you'll be able to get there, you'll be able to find some way to get to where you want to go in the future, I think that's really cool.

UOW is committed to providing a supportive and accessible environment for all equity students. For more information about Outreach programs and our students visit uow.edu.au/in2uni or contact the Outreach and Pathways team.

The Outreach Team works across the UOW campus footprint – from Bega Valley and Eurobodalla on the south coast, to Southern Highlands and South Western Sydney in the west and throughout the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions. We love living and working in our communities to deliver programs for students, teachers, parents and caregivers. Our programs enable students to take ownership of their future and make informed choices to achieve their goals.


Outreach & Widening Participation Programs

Learning Labs


Bega Valley



Southern Highlands

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