The AIM High program within the Equity and Diversity Unit at the University of Newcastle seeks to challenge social exclusion by supporting positive change through education. The project is focused on supporting educational aspiration, attainment and access for students and families from low SES (socioeconomic status) backgrounds.
The program was developed in response to the recommendations in the Bradley Review of Higher Education (2008) and the Sutton Trust (2008) report on widening participation in higher education. This area of the University’s work builds on the University’s strong track record of being a place of opportunity and a national leader in the equity of access to Higher Education.
Believing the future starts now, the AIM High program draws from thirteen targeted low SES high schools and their partner primary schools to support early and direct intervention with young people and their families to increase their knowledge and understanding of their post school options. By immersing family members and parents in the program they are better equipped to support their child’s career and educational aspirations, engagement and attainment, regardless of their own educational experience.
A range of tertiary education experiences developed with the community are offered throughout the primary and secondary learning stages, delivered both on campus and in schools. The program uses innovative approaches to demonstrate the links between a student’s lived experience, classroom learning and career and study options.
The Careers through Reading program introduces Year 2 students to a variety of career and study options through university students reading them story books related to their study or future career. Year 5 and Year 10 students act as role models for the younger students, while continuing to enhance and develop their knowledge of careers.
Discover Uni Days provide an opportunity for year 6 students and their family members to experience what on-campus life is like as a Uni student. By participating in a series of activities as well as visiting Uni facilities, the students and family members are exposed to a wide variety of careers and study options.
The SMART (Science, Maths and Real Technology) program mixes entertainment and education in demonstration based science shows. Teachers appreciate the curriculum links, pupils love the exciting demonstrations and Uni students develop their communication skills whilst presenting the shows.
The Girls’ Choices Summer School and LIVE IT! (for boys) programs are five-day residential experiences for Year 9 students from equity target groups across NSW. The programs are designed to inspire students to build upon their potential to succeed in years 10, 11 and 12, Throughout the week students participate in a program of activities, lectures, workshops and industry visits, all designed to reinforce the importance of further education and expose them to the wide range of study and career options that exist for HSC graduates.
Other programs aimed at the later high school years include MAN (Mentoring for AspiratioN), which was developed in conjunction with Callaghan College, and HSC Coach, which provides students with digital access to high-quality, annually updated, course-specific HSC expertise.
The AIM High program resides in the Equity and Diversity Unit at the University of Newcastle. The role of the Equity and Diversity Unit is to work in partnership with staff, students and the wider community to ensure that the principles of equity, diversity, access and social justice are embedded into all that the University aims to achieve.