20 December 2011

The University of Queensland has welcomed a Federal Government announcement of $67 million as part of a scheme to assist more students from disadvantaged backgrounds attend university.

The funds will support 11 programs as part of the Federal Government's Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP).

The Director of UQ's Equity Office, Dr Ann Stewart, was an inaugural member of a working party which proposed the allocation several years ago.

Dr Stewart said she welcomed the $21.1 million (of the total pool of $67.09 million) allocated for Queensland projects, which are focused on aspiration-building for Indigenous Australian students and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

UQ's Vice-Chancellor Professor Debbie Terry said the funding was important in assisting all capable students, regardless of their race or financial circumstances to have an opportunity to access higher education and achieve their career dreams.

Of the $21.1 million, $15.8 million will fund Schools Outreach initiatives. Once allocated to individual Queensland universities, UQ's share of the funds will be managed by its Office of Prospective Students, Scholarships and Student Equity, headed by Ms Margaret Fairman.

Similarly, a further $5.35 million (of the $21.1 million to Queensland) will be spread among Queensland universities for Indigenous Engagement activities.

UQ's share of these funds will be managed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education), Professor Cindy Shannon.

Dr Stewart said among UQ projects to benefit from the funding would be The University Experience Program – a tertiary awareness and aspiration building program aimed at students in the Ipswich and Lockyer Valley areas.

The funding would also be used to help UQ undertake parent and community engagement initiatives with a focus on Indigenous communities in the Ipswich region and areas to the west of Brisbane, she said.

UQ currently has a number of initiatives, such as homework centres, mentoring programs for Aboriginal school students, on-campus camps, and links with Youth Sports Program. It is intended that this proposal will build on these initiatives, linking to Indigenous communities and importantly, encouraging parents to become involved with their children.

Dr Stewart said the Queensland working party had been established under the auspices of the Higher Education Forum and comprised of representatives from all Queensland universities as well as the Queensland Department of Education and Training.

"The input from our Queensland working party helped shape and inform the project bids to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations which had received the endorsement of the vice-chancellors from every Queensland public university," Dr Stewart said.

In announcing the funding on Thursday last week, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans said the successful projects would enable universities, in partnership with TAFEs and schools, to do more with disadvantaged schools and communities, giving students the support they needed to access a university education.

"This funding will give those Australians who have dreamed of going to university, but have traditionally felt locked out of the system, the chance to achieve that dream," Senator Evans said.

Media: Dr Ann Stewart (email: ann.stewart@uq.edu.au or 3365 3052) or Shirley Glaister (email: s.glaister@uq.edu.au or 3365 2802).