Uni students supported

NEW initiatives may help more people in Bass Coast complete tertiary qualifications.
A forum – run by The Star and Bass Coast Shire Council in Wonthaggi last Tuesday, September 4 – identified life skills programs and a remote university hub located in Bass Coast as priority projects.
Twelve secondary school students, two trainees and two tertiary students attended the forum and presented to Bass Coast Shire Council’s mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield, deputy mayor Cr Brett Tessari and CEO Paul Buckley.
As well as life skills, finances, support and distance from home were identified as key barriers into tertiary education.
Students intending to leave the shire and move into the city suggested they lacked the life skills and experience to confidently make the lifestyle change.
Other students said they would prefer to stay local if given the option. This launched the topic of remote university hubs, like the model operating in Cooma, New South Wales.
Newhaven College’s Azul Sibly said she would use the hub if it were developed.
“I don’t like to be away from the ocean for too long,” she said.
“My family has a farm, so I have a dual connection with the land and the water. I would prefer to stay with my family.”
Those looking to move away gravitated towards a program soon to be launched by youth advocate Josh Baker.
Mr Baker intends to run a summer program for Year 12s transitioning to the city for further education.
The program will cover a range of topics including cooking and cleaning, budgeting, how to use public transport and what scholarships to apply for.
“The life skills program is perfect for me. It would be incredible to be able to go to university confident in those skills,” Wonthaggi Secondary College student Jack Mendes said.
Education is one of the key priorities listed in council’s advocacy strategy and council was responsive to the students’ concerns.
“These students give me so much faith in our future. They are articulate and bring so much to the table. We need to listen to this generation and let them lead us,” Cr Rothfield said.
“I found the life skills discussion was interesting and it was nice to hear not everyone wants to move away from their community. We need to do something now to retain our youth and give them options.
“Council has a role to advocate for the right solutions to help people achieve their tertiary qualifications.”
The students said they appreciated having their voices heard in a formal setting and would like to see more forums held in the future.

Discussion: online student Christine Balks and Wonthaggi Secondary College Year 12 students Jack Mendes and James Cohen brainstormed the opportunities and challenges of aspiring university students at a forum held last Tuesday, September 4.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=25803

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