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. 

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How to become an ASPIRE Ambassador

Make a real difference to a young person’s future.

Be part of an enthusiastic, fun, committed team of volunteers who work with students from disadvantaged schools.

ASPIRE Ambassadors can help students realise their full potential.

For lots of reasons, many bright school students doubt they could succeed at university. Some haven’t considered giving it a try. Others don’t know much about it. Some may not know anyone who’s been to university.

The ASPIRE program focuses on inspiring school students to believe in themselves and their abilities. Through workshops and activities in the schools and on-campus, students learn about themselves and about university.

Through ASPIRE our aim is to encourage more students from low socio-economic backgrounds to go on to higher education.

Who can be an ASPIRE Ambassador?

  • We are looking for current students who have studied at UNSW for more than one semester to join our ASPIRE Ambassador team. Postgraduates and undergraduates from any faculty and degree programs are welcome to apply.

Have you got what it takes?

If you:

  • are passionate about education and the benefits it can bring
  • are able to lead, communicate and inspire young people to achieve
  • understand the barriers young people face accessing higher education
  • are open and willing to share your own university experience
  • enjoy meeting new people and working in a team

then becoming an ASPIRE Ambassador could be for you.

Things you need to know

  • The ASPIRE program runs different activities for different school groups throughout the year.
  • If selected, you will be trained to run workshops and activities with the students in schools and on-campus.
  • A one-day training session is compulsory.
  • ASPIRE programs and events usually involve a half-day commitment of your time.
  • You can volunteer for any of the activities that suit your availability throughout the semester.
  • Volunteering as an ASPIRE Ambassador will be recognised on your UNSW Supplementary Transcript, if you participate in at least two activities per semester. 

How to apply

  • Applications open prior to each semester.
  • Visit the ASPIRE website for more details and application form.

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