Transitioning from high school to university can be daunting. For students outside of the capital cities there are additional challenges.
Principal of Grant High School, Fleur Roachock believes the new UniSA Accelerate program will provide a more challenging and meaningful SACE experience for students and remove major barriers to tertiary study.
“What I really hope is that young people will see that university is really accessible. They can have it as part of their ongoing plan and it does not look like it’s out of reach for them. And that studying locally is also a possibility,” Roachock said.
“At the moment we have fewer than 30 per cent of our students who go down that pathway. And that’s okay, but it worries me that they’re doing that for reasons that have nothing to do with their academic ability.”
Students participating in UniSA Accelerate will get study credit towards a business degree, as well as having the subjects count for SACE Stage 2 and ATAR. Their subjects will also be fully funded by the university for successful applicants.
Supported by dedicated academic and other staff, students will study 100 per cent online. This means they will have the flexibility to balance other school studies and commitments.
University of South Australia’s Business Executive Dean Professor Andrew Beer said the program was launched in response to high school students’ desire for a more flexible pathway into tertiary study. He said for regional schools there were additional benefits.
“We understand that regional high schools often struggle to provide a broad-based curriculum, and we can add to their portfolio of offerings,” Beer said.
The range of subjects available includes accounting, business law, marketing, economics, psychology, management and organisation.
David Marino, Principal of Edward John Eyre High School in Whyalla agrees with Roachock on the value of the program to students.
“Particularly for our context, being a regional community, it gives them an opportunity to access university education, which traditionally has had lots of barriers based on geographical location,” Marino said.
Professor Beer believes the program will address skills shortages and support business growth in the regions.
“I think there is plenty of opportunity for kids with a strong business background to move into really promising careers in their home town or region,” Beer said.
“We know that regional South Australia is the engine of so much economic growth in this nation and by providing these skills we’re increasing the capacity further.”
Marino is full of praise for this and other initiatives by the University of South Australia.
“Certainly, having university available more locally has been a real gamechanger,” Marino said.
“UniSA has been very, very proactive. They sponsor awards, like our Dux Award. They come to present to students about offerings, enrolment and enrolment support looking at the SATAC application process. They also do STEM and STEM for girls, and competitions where they fund trips to Adelaide to access the STEM centre at Mawson Lakes.”
Both high school principals believe the program has the potential to positively impact each of their communities on a bigger scale.
“The more university subjects that we can get down here, and the more opportunities people have to study university subjects in Mount Gambier, the more likely we are to retain our white-collar workers,” Roachock said.
“People are less likely to go away and then not come back. And if we are able to have people here and wanting to study here, then we will keep them. And that will be of huge benefit to our community.”
Roachock said her school’s association with UniSA is a two-way street that pays increasing dividends for both parties. She said one example is their hosting of social work students on placements at the school.
“Our partnership with UniSA is really important to us. Those connections, especially in a community like Mount Gambier, are really important,” Roachock said.
“They become quite cyclical. What we’re able to gain, we’re also able to give back.”
UniSA Accelerate is open to all Year 12 students living in South Australia. Applications for next year are now open and close 7 January 2022.
For more information, visit the website or view the brochure.