Many school students go through their school life without ever thinking or believing they have the potential to go to university.

Some think they aren’t smart enough, live too far away, aren’t well-off enough or won’t fit in. Other students don’t think about going to university because they don’t know anyone who’s been. Some students don't know the benefits higher education can bring.

ASPIRE sets out to challenge student misconceptions about:

  • themselves and their own ability to succeed at university
  • the type of people who go
  • what jobs further study can lead to
  • universities being scary places.

Through workshops, activities, campus visits and events, students explore the opportunities higher education could bring them. ASPIRE helps students see how further education can unlock their own potential. It also shows them there are many ways to navigate a path to university if they decide they really want to go.

Currently the ASPIRE program is in partnership with a selected group of schools across NSW. ASPIRE works with students from Preschool to Year 12. Starting early and having frequent interactions with students are the building blocks of success for outreach programs such as ASPIRE.


ASPIRE in action

The ASPIRE program is tailored to the individual schools and their student demographic profile. Schools currently involved are from culturally and socially diverse areas in metropolitan Sydney and regional New South Wales.

SEADU staff and trained UNSW student volunteers use in-class activities, campus visits and workshops to focus on:

  • building confidence in the student’s academic abilities
  • raising awareness about the variety of jobs a degree opens up
  • demystifying what a university is really like
  • encouraging students to have a broader view of their future opportunities
  • showing the link between their personal aspiration and further education.

On-campus visits give students a hands-on experience of university by:

  • attending lectures
  • visiting student facilities such as accommodation, sport, lecture theatres, libraries etc
  • participating in laboratory demonstrations, sport science activities, legal debates, science experiments etc
  • meeting students from a variety of other schools
  • teamwork activities
  • interacting with current UNSW students.

University is not for everyone, but all students involved in ASPIRE can benefit from stretching their imaginations to think beyond what they are familiar with and encouraged to think more broadly about their abilities.

ASPIRE helps students discover careers or job prospects they never would have thought themselves capable of pursuing.

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The role of parents and community

The ASPIRE project recognises the influential role parents and the local community play in shaping a student’s attitude to higher education. Strategies are underway inviting parents and families to find out more about the benefits of a higher education.

Community role models are a valuable tool in giving students an insight into the wide range of qualifications and job opportunities available in their local area and beyond.

ASPIRE aims to create stronger links with local communities and to have a more visible presence in the community by attending local events and by holding specific events for the community.

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ASPIRE Ambassadors

The UNSW student volunteers, known as ASPIRE Ambassadors, play an important role in ASPIRE’s success. They are a big hit with school students.

  • Ambassadors lead ASPIRE activities at the appropriate level and relate well to the students.
  • School students feel comfortable asking the ‘real’ questions about uni they don’t ask their teachers or UNSW staff.
  • ASPIRE Ambassadors are enthusiastic about their own studies and readily share information about uni life.
  • They can talk about uni as it is now, not as it was five to ten years ago.
  • They genuinely enjoy helping school students see the different future university can offer. 

For more information about our ambassadors and how to become an ASPIRE Ambassador, please visit our ASPIRE Ambassador web page on the Current Student website.

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