How CSU helps those from disadvantaged communities realise their potential.
The path to university can be daunting, overwhelming, stressful, We’re all familiar with the roads that led us here, some of us have been conditioned to aim for university since the moment we stepped foot on school grounds, some of us didn’t even know what we wanted to be until we were in our 20s.
There’s a vast rhetoric surrounding university, some parents believe it’s the only way to ensure a good career, other parents say they’ve lived a good life without going to university. Our High School teachers tell us uni will not be as easy as high school, some uni students say high school challenged them more.
Choosing where to go, what to study, figuring out if you even have the money, can you juggle work and study at the same time? What will happen if you can’t? Is already confusing enough as it is, but it’s worsened when children from disadvantaged communities are told it’s not something they can even access.
This happens a lot across Australia, typically in regions, areas of low socioeconomic status, and in Indigenous Communities.
But, Charles Sturt University’s Future Moves program is here to combat that stance, and teach people in these disadvantaged communities that university is accessible to everyone across Australia.
“It really just breaks down barriers that people [in a student’s life] or peers might create”Tom Griffiths, Central West Program Director
Future Moves is a Federal Government funded program, and there is a similar set up in every Australian university, but some will target high achievers, or have long term programs that lead straight into a university degree.
But CSU does it differently, using their funding to send outreach teams to schools located throughout the Three Rivers Footprint, where the campuses are located, and target people of low socioeconomic backgrounds and First Nations communities, which are among some of the people most frequently told university isn’t attainable.
When I spoke to Tom Griffiths, the Program Coordinator for the Central West, he was on a job in Cowra, setting up workshops for one of the schools there.
Future Moves “aims to raise aspiration and awareness for tertiary education with low socio-economic and first nations students”, and they do this by visiting local schools, and approaching the students from Kindergarten through to the senior years of high school.
Future Moves Manager Ben Morris, says it’s important to get the program to the younger years.
“New research shows children know their place in the pecking order of society around 9 years old, when it used to be around 12-14”
Mr Morris describes the Future Moves program as journey, it starts in the early years of schooling, when the outreach team work to build awareness about university, what it can help people achieve, and how it’s an option for everyone. It builds awareness about career options, which workforces are subject to radical change, like journalism taking to the airwaves and the internet and relying less on print, and the workforces which remain steadfast, like health and medicine.
The program then moves into the aspiration phase, aimed at late primary school, early high school, to encourage students to keep their careers in mind, to think about ways to access and achieve their career goals.
“Everyone has access to this, it’s not just smart, rich kids”
The later years of high school are focused on how to access. Despite what is sold to us in high school, the highest ATAR is not the only way to secure a spot at university. There are many options for early entry, there are diplomas of general studies and pathways that will also grant access to your career goals, and that is what the final phase of the Future Moves Journey is tailored to.
Future Moves tends to partner with schools that have fewer than one thousand students, and partner schools in 2019 saw a 41% increase in enrolments to CSU, but not everyone who is approached by Future Moves is obliged to apply to CSU, so the true figure of people who enroll in university because of the program is likely to be higher.
This month, Future Moves hit the milestone of visiting and interacting with 100,000 students across its decade long tenure.
Charles Sturt University students are encouraged to volunteer for the Future Moves program, to work with the program directors and get sent out to schools in the local central west area to share your experiences with applying to university.
It’s also a great way for children, not much younger than you or I, to see first hand what university can offer in the present, rather than listen to people to attended university more than a decade ago drone on about their times in a system which has gone under the knife several times.
Mr Griffiths describes it as one of the best and most fun experience. As someone who works with outreach, you get to hear about a students goals and aspirations, as well as their fears, and you get to help them realise that university is an attainable goal, regardless of background.
He says there’s a moment of recognition, when a student realises they hadn’t been given the whole picture, and it becomes clear their dreams may actually just be goals, and you can see it on their face.
It’s a great way to give back to the community, and if it interests you, an expression of interests form can be found here: https://forms.gle/uyvfiu4d7jJfjnZm8