Wednesday, August 1, 5:00-5:30, SUB Ballroom B, Theme: Community

“It’s hugely important, you making those connections are really, really important in a rural environment” (Rural principal, 2017).  In the Bega Valley on the east coast of Australia, 15% of people gain a University qualification ** as opposed to 42% in major cities.*  The University of Wollongong (UOW) Outreach & Pathways unit is very proud to be recognised as the Australian award winner for ‘Programs that Enhance Learning, category of Widening Participation 2017, Australian Awards for University Teaching.

Since 2011 UOW Outreach has been working with rural communities and in 2017 the UOW Bega regional campus received a Federal grant to extend their successful outreach model to schools in further remote locations.  This model puts rural schools and students at the centre, developing practical programs that have rural university mentors engaging with rural school students, sharing personal success and challenges to demystify university and address barriers.  Mills and Gale (2014) suggest that there is very little chance of encountering someone who acts in this way to disrupt young people’s aspirations in an isolated rural community.

Contextualising the Design and Evaluation Matrix for Outreach (DEMO) framework (Gale et al., 2010), UOW has developed a program that inspires and enables rural university students to “pay it forward”.  We wish to share with international rural schools and universities our stories of success and challenges in developing rural education partnerships and promoting student progression, and to learn from others and bring international knowledge home.
*Regional Universities Network 2017; ** .id the populations experts 2016