Smart Steps program for Year 12 students - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Smart Steps program for Year 12 students

26 Oct 2016

Thirty Year 12 Gympie students with no plans for further study when they leave school next month will take part in a pilot program designed to change their thinking about university.

The University of the Sunshine Coast will host a “Smart Steps” session of career immersion activities at its Gympie campus tomorrow (Thursday 27 October) for the group of senior students from Gympie State High School.

USC’s Head of Preparation Pathways Dr Kerry Rutter said the students had been invited to take part in Smart Steps because they were not studying for an Overall Position (OP) to gain a university entrance score.

“We are hoping to raise their aspirations and expose them to a range of different careers to show there are many different avenues to participating in tertiary education other than by gaining an OP,” said Dr Rutter.

The Smart Steps event is the latest initiative from an ongoing research project to help rural students access and benefit from university.

Dr Rutter is the principal researcher in the Removing Barriers to Engagement by Tertiary Students Living in Regional Areas (RBETS) research project which focuses on young men in the Gympie region.

“Initially the project was aimed at men aged from 20-35 years and involved focus groups to find out why many in this age group seemed reluctant to engage in university study,” she said.

“We found that many had no idea what careers were available or believed that doing one degree locked you into doing that same job for the rest of your working life.

“We hope by extending our focus to older high school students, we can encourage more young rural men and women to consider tertiary study as a way of greatly improving their career options and chances of success.” 

Dr Rutter said the outcomes of this pilot project and activities such as Smart Steps could be replicated in other rural and regional areas.

The RBETS research project is funded by the Federal Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program.

Clare McKay

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