$3.45m for higher education access

La Trobe has welcomed a $3.45 million election pledge by the ALP towards funding key programs to improve equity and access to higher education in north Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Announced today at La Trobe University’s Albury-Wodonga campus by Shadow Minister for Universities Senator Louise Pratt and Labor candidate for Indi, Eric Kerr, the three programs - developed and run by La Trobe - would include mentoring, wellbeing and literacy programs and financial assistance for disadvantaged students.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar welcomed Labor’s election pledge, saying that if the ALP is successful in the Federal election, the programs would help ensure more people get the opportunity of a university education.

“Access for all people to an excellent higher education - regardless of their background – is at the heart of La Trobe’s purpose and ethos,” Professor Dewar said.

“La Trobe would be delighted to lead and implement these important programs which we have developed, to further support an accessible higher education system which is not only fairer, but also increases the skills the labour market needs.”

Program One: Building pathways to retain regional school students into Year 12 and beyond

In response to schools across regional Australia experiencing significantly higher drop-out rates among year 11 students than in metropolitan areas, the first program would focus on improving secondary school students’ retention rates and aspiration levels from year 11 to university.

A successful pilot Year 11 Pathway to La Trobe program trialled over the last two years in Albury-Wodonga with students from local disadvantaged high schools would be further enhanced with the funding election commitment. The program has recently been expanded to Shepparton with support from the Gillespie Family.

Students would be supported through intensive introduction days, mentor programs, wellbeing workshops, activities to build academic skills and parent engagement workshops.

La Trobe would offer participants an early conditional University place and access to financial assistance.

Program Two: Boosting regional participation in tertiary education (Wodonga pilot)

Albury-Wodonga would be the focus of the second program which aims to boost regional participation in higher education.

The pilot program, jointly designed by La Trobe and Wodonga TAFE, to address very low higher education participation rates in the area, would trial a range of initiatives to address many of the known factors that prevent participation.

Initiatives trialled would include child care support, travel support and employer incentives to allow flexible release for staff taking a course.

Program Three: Mentoring disadvantaged students

Regional Victoria and northern Melbourne would also benefit from a mentoring program - based on the successful In2Science program - where volunteer La Trobe students work with teachers on a range of curriculum areas in disadvantaged schools.

ENDS

Media Contact (La Trobe): Claire Bowers – c.bowers@latrobe.edu.au - 9479 2315 / 0437279903

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