The University of Western Sydney will welcome almost 600 Year 9 students across Greater Western Sydney into the Fast Forward Program with a series of awards evenings.
The Fast Forward Program helps to bridge the gap from school to university by building the educational aspirations of high school students (Years 9 to 12) who have academic and/or leadership potential, but might not consider post-school study as an option.
Ms Anne McLean, Manager of Schools Engagement at UWS, says the program is part of the UWS Schools Strategic Plan.
"The University works with schools to improve the educational opportunities and attainment of students in Greater Western Sydney," says Ms McLean.
"Fast Forward recognises the importance of engaging students with the concept of lifelong learning and the benefits of post-school education as early as possible so that students have the knowledge to plan their pathways in the senior years of schooling and beyond."
Over the course of the year students will be involved in school assembly presentations, skills days, in-school mentoring and, for Year 11 and 12 students, the opportunity to be matched with a UWS student whose studies relate to their interests and 'shadow' them on a typical university day.
All of the individual components of the Fast Forward Program aim to:
* Increase Greater Western Sydney (GWS) school students' engagement in learning and the completion of Year 12;
* Develop students' confidence, knowledge, skills and educational attainment;
* Enhance GWS students' awareness of post-school education opportunities;
* Promote the benefit of lifelong learning, providing life opportunities to students and their families; and
* Improve the participation of GWS students in higher education.
Mr Jim Micsko, Manager of the Fast Forward Program, says the awards ceremonies are an important first step for the selected students who will be part of the program for the next three years.
"At the Awards Evening, students linked to the Bansktown, Campbelltown, Penrith and Parramatta campuses will be recognised and rewarded for their academic and leadership potential by being accepted into the Fast Forward Program," says Mr Micsko.
"Throughout the program, high school students and their families will be encouraged to see tertiary study as a realistic and viable post-school option and this will help to raise participants' aspirations for the future."
Past Fast Forward students, who are now completing degrees at UWS, and students who are first in their families to attend university will speak at the evenings and give the new cohort of Year 9 students an understanding of the benefits of the program.
"We are proud of the success of Fast Forward and the program has continued to grow with the number of schools participating in the program increasing from 25 in 2010, to 42 this year," says Mr Micsko.
"The majority of last year's graduates are at university and many of the others are undertaking post-school study at TAFE or private colleges."
"This makes it clear that we are helping secondary school students to achieve their personal best by engaging them in experiential learning opportunities which connect them to the university environment and shows them the lifelong benefits of education."
Past Fast Forward student, Taha Allam, is now studying a Bachelor of Medical Science at UWS and he will speak about his experiences at the Awards Evenings.
"One of the stand-out experiences in Fast Forward was having a mentor who really helped me to understand what I was interested in and how I could make that a reality once I left school," says Taha.
"I also found having a link to the University through the Program helped me to really come out of my shell when I started University as I already knew what UWS was about - this helped to smooth the transition from high school to university."
For more information, please visit www.uws.edu.au/fastforward.
02 9678 7085, 0410 564 803
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