Speaking With One Voice: a Partnerships Approach in RMIT’s ‘I Belong’ Program

lcj 17 coverAleryk Fricker

LCJ: Special Edition: Indigenous Pathways and Transitions into Higher Education, 17, pp. 30-43
http://doi.org/10.18793/LCJ2015.17.03

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Fricker, A. (2015). Speaking With One Voice: a Partnerships Approach in RMIT’s ‘I Belong’ Program. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: Indigenous Pathways and Transitions into Higher Education], 17, 30-43. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18793/LCJ2015.17.03.

 

Abstract

RMIT University is committed to increasing and improving the academic outcomes and access of all students in Victoria regardless of their circumstances and backgrounds. In 2001 RMIT invested in a program which would provide students with opportunities to grow their tertiary access and participation for equity groups. Initially the Schools Network Access Program (SNAP) was made available to seven under-represented Melbourne secondary schools. Since 2001 SNAP has increased to include over 170 Victorian secondary schools with further expansion scheduled in 2016. Students who complete year 12 at these schools are eligible to apply as a SNAP student, and as part of this access scheme they can have their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) increased by up to twenty points. This access for the students has been informed by the research conducted which found that students from non-selective government schools performed more highly than students from independent schools who achieved the same ATAR score (Dobson & Skuja, 2005). Given that a disproportionate number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds attend government schools (Gonski, Boston, Greiner, Lawrence, Scales, & Tannock, 2011); this suggests that low socio-economic status students with ATAR scores lower than the course cut-off who gain access through equity schemes will succeed at university provided that their scores are close to the cut-off level  (QUT Equity Services, 2012). A key component of SNAP is the I Belong outreach program. I Belong commenced in 2011 and was designed to give students an authentic university experience and build aspirations to embark on a tertiary qualification. In 2014 RMIT hosted over 3500 secondary students on campus through the I Belong program.

 

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