Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 7, No. 2 (2010)

Creating stronger ties and engagements with secondary and primary schools: A way forward for regional universities

Joy Penman, University of South Australia

Abstract

The declining rate of participation in higher education within Australia has become a major concern, especially for certain regional universities, and requires institutional responses. This paper examines a local solution originating from the staff of the Centre for Regional Engagement, University of South Australia at Whyalla, who put into action various initiatives with the goal of improving university uptake by local school students. Particular attention is given to the following: ‘Year 10 university experience’; ‘How science is utilised by health professionals’; ‘First-generation program’; Nursing careers expositions; and academic visits by primary students. By using a mixed method research design, the learning outcomes and perceptions of the implemented early intervention initiatives by participating school students were determined. Findings highlight students’ positive attitude about future university studies, as well as gaining a better understanding of science, health, nursing and other health professions, and career alternatives. Partnering with primary and secondary schools, hospitals, community organisations, and a rural health school, is a promising strategy to effectively meet the educational needs of regional students and communities, increase participation in higher education, and have a positive impact on regional university futures.

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